President Trump looking to impose tariffs on Chinese imports, including tech products

President Donald Trump greets visitors on the tarmac as he arrives at St. Louis Lambert International Airport Wednesday Nov. 29 2017 in St. Louis where he will speak about tax reform

Good decision. The financial markets rallied, as the new plan specifically targets countries that are cheating and stealing, such as China and Russian Federation, and provides exemptions for allies.

For a guy who has supposedly mastered "The Art of the Deal", Trump should know this is a failing strategy.

The Trump administration tried to justify invoking the security factor by saying steel and aluminium are needed to make tanks, fighter planes and other weapons of war.

That's a useful lesson for our friends and foes alike.

The same could be said of Trump, who is clearly playing to a segment of the US population that believes, as do millions of people around the world, that free trade is a good theory but can be and is being abused by others at the expense of jobs and growth at home. That is theft, and it can not stand. This decision will not only disturb financial markets for the short term but also leave lasting damages on the U.S. -Europe relations for long term.

But there were also winners on the American side. We are being played as suckers. The proposed tariffs are based upon findings from an investigation by U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer which was formed to determine whether China's practices are discriminatory or restrictive for U.S. commerce.

Based on my conversations with Donald Trump on this subject, his doctrine is predicated on the undeniable truism that nations, such as China and Russian Federation, need America far more than we need them. His many commentaries and essays spelled out the benefits of open borders, including a popular essay titled "The Case for Free Trade". "You can't cooperate when you're getting whacked around", the person told Reuters. Since we are the global alpha male, we can make the rules - rather than hand them off to the feckless bureaucrats at the World Trade Organization.

And, he added, instead of threatening a trade war, Trump should restart the trans-Atlantic free trade negotiations between the USA and the European Union which began under former president Barack Obama but were never finished. He wants to make access to US markets contingent on foreigners' playing by the rules (e.g., paying full price for the research costs of our technologies).

He added: "Although the USA trade balance is very negative with China, more U.S. public companies would be hurt by a trade war with China than would be helped". If they don't cooperate, they will pay a toll or tariff.

Trump has said he wants to "create a level playing field" for American companies and American workers.

The Chinese aren't going to like having to conform to these new rules, but what alternative will they have?

Another contrast with the Reagan-era measures is that we are living in a more advanced stage of globalization, and the problems that have accompanied it are greater. If we lose access to their cheap goods and services, we pay more for clothes and toys and toothpaste at Walmart. Their experience and observation would be that local jobs and incomes are lost when "unfair" imports replace local goods. We could give China the choice between cooperating in the nuclear disarmament of Beijing's lap dog, North Korea, and losing access to American markets. At that point, an old-fashioned trade war may seem irresistible, to provide distraction and political cover. He categorically rejected the claim that such a policy could only be adopted if other nations did the same. Last year, the United States grew its trade deficit to $566 billion.

Defenders of the tariffs argue that steel and aluminum are important for national defense, and so need to be protected even at the cost of less martial industries. Other countries that impose restrictions on global trade do hurt us. Certainly our farmers, our technology and pharmaceutical companies and our industrial blue-collar workers would applaud that.

"China urges the United States to respect the authority of the multilateral trade system, and repeal the measures as soon as possible", a China Ministry of Commerce statement recommended. This free trade rhetoric is disguised anti-Americanism. His latest book is "Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy".

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