Tariffs, Trade Pacts, and Trade Wars

This week Trump announced huge new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum. He lost his chief economic advisor, Gary Cohn, as a result. More than 100 Republicans in Congress have asked him to reconsider.  And, the Republican head of the Senate  Senate’s Homeland Security and Government Affairs Committee announced a review that includes asking the Administration to provide by March 22 a “detailed cost analysis” of the impact on the economy and for answers about how employment levels and national security concerns were factored into the decision (or not, as the case likely is).

The ink wasn’t even dry on his initial announcement of a 20% tariff on all steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum when Trump began to back down, exempting Canada and Mexico from the new penalties while trying to extract changes to NAFTA. Elsewhere in the world, the announcement continues to cause consternation and talk of retaliation. Since Trump has gutted the State Department — and now lost his head of the Council of Economic Advisors, he has few if any experts available to help find a way through the chaos he has created.

Meanwhile, while Trump was carrying out his Oval Office photo-op with steelworkers on Thursday, eleven nations — including historically major allies like Australia, Canada, and Japan — met in Chile to sign a trade pact for the Pacific Region. This is what is left of the Trans-Pacific Partnership negotiated under Obama that was designed to counter China’s influence in the region. Trump withdrew from the TPP as one of the first acts of his Administration.  One year later, our old allies are inviting China into their trade pact.

Even local Flagstaff Republicans aren’t defending Trump’s trade policy.

Democrats position: This is no way to govern.


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