OPINION: Will Trump Flub the China Trade Talks?

Jan 31 2019 |
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If he takes the easy way out, then yes.

Alliance for American Manufacturing President Scott Paul has an op-ed today in Real Clear Politics on the Trump administration’s trade dispute with China, which has a delegation in Washington today to talk turkey. But will the Trump team miss this opportunity to rework the U.S.-China trade relationship? And what would missing this opportunity look like?

He writes:

It’s easy to see how Trump could succumb:

He listens to his conciliatory advisers, like Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and relieves China of the pressure caused by broad U.S. tariffs and specific trade enforcement actions – the very pressure that brought Beijing to this bargaining table.

He reaches for immediate gratification after a few brutal weeks of self-inflicted government shutdown headlines, and closes negotiations without touching on the fundamental problems at the root of these trade disputes: China’s massive support for key industries and state-owned enterprises; its disregard for intellectual property rights; its forced technology transfer policies. He picks apart none of them, and this amalgamation of Chinese policies, which creates that nation’s unnatural trade advantage, is allowed to continue.

He overrules clear-eyed negotiators like U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and accepts an immediate “deal,” in which the Chinese side offers to purchase more liquified natural gas, more soybeans, or a few more planes from Boeing to reduce our annual goods trade deficit.

If Trump folds quickly and accepts very little, then yes: It will be an opportunity squandered.

Read the rest here.