Whatever you think of President Trump, it’s hard to deny that having someone with real negotiating skills in the White House is making its mark on US foreign and trade policy. Since taking office, the POTUS has taken on a series of problems previous administrations have failed to solve, and dealt with them all – North Korea and Iran are great examples.
Now he’s done it again.
• Since the 1980s, one of the most serious issues the US economy has faced is unbalanced trade with China. That country is now the world’s largest exporter, and its communist government doesn’t play by the normal rules of trade. Instead they’ve turned trade into a weapon of mass destruction, using it to cause damage to economies they target.
• The USA has been one of those targeted economies for decades. By taking advantage of our low tariffs and simple import procedures, China has been able to flood us with cheap goods – goods that used to be made in America. The result has been lost jobs and US companies moving abroad so they can compete.
• Now, at last, there looks to be some progress on moving things to a more balanced trade relationship. After months of mounting tension that’s seen billions of dollars lost to tariffs, President Trump and the general secretary of the Chinese Communist Party have agreed an interim trade deal. This is basically a 90-day truce in the trade war that was picking up steam, but it’s still a significant achievement.
• What Trump’s deal does, on top of buying time for more thorough negotiations, is start to chip away at China’s punitive tariffs on US imports. China has agreed to reduce, and in some cases remove, tariffs on US-made cars; auto industry share prices are already rising. According to the president, there’s also good news on the way for American farmers.
• Key issues that still need to be solved include China’s habit of stealing designs from US businesses and their refusal to follow international law on producing counterfeit products. The good news is that the Trump administration is taking a harder line on this than Obama did.
• The next round of talks will be led by US Trade Representative, Robert E. Lighthizer, who’s well known for his skepticism about Chinese negotiating tactics. According to Lighthizer, “China fundamentally has not altered its acts, policies and practices related to technology transfer, intellectual property and innovation, and indeed appears to have taken further unreasonable actions in recent months.” If President Trump stays true to form, China won’t be getting away with that anymore.