President Trump seems to have been caught off-guard by the breakdown of trade talks with China — which, in fairness to him, really does seem to have been driven by an abrupt shift in negotiating position by the Chinese, forcing him to rethink his broader strategy on global trade.
At the same time as Trump has escalated his trade dispute with China — raising tariffs and threatening to impose them on more categories of goods — he has de-escalated such disputes with other partners: He has announced a six-month delay on the imposition of threatened global tariffs on imported cars, as well as a deal to end tariffs on steel and aluminum from Canada and Mexico.
is a capitulation to demands from both Canadian lawmakers and Republican senators, who have said they wouldn’t approve Trump’s revised version of NAFTA until the tariffs go away. I still wouldn’t expect ratification soon — House Democrats would have to approve the deal, too, and they have a separate set of demands they still want met. Nor are they eager to hand Trump a victory. But even if the deal is never ratified, withdrawing the metal tariffs reduces the level of friction with countries that could be our allies in trade disputes with China if we (i.e., Trump) weren’t constantly antagonizing them.
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