Donald Trump appears to have kicked off not so much a trade war as a trade slapfest, with tariff announcements flying fast and furious. After Donald Trump announced tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from some countries, including China, China kicked off this week with an announcement of tariffs on nearly $3 billion a year of American goods. Trump then announced more tariffs on China, and China has slapped right back with an announced round of tariffs on 106 products, including soybeans, cars, chemicals and airplanes:
Though a response from Beijing was widely expected, the speed of the announcement came as a surprise, deepening fears of a rapid escalation.
At a press conference on Wednesday, Chinese officials did little to stem talk of “war,” but stressed that Beijing is willing to work with the White House.
“If someone wants a trade war, we will fight to the end. If someone wants to talk, our door is open,” said Wang Shouwen, vice-minister of commerce.
Trump’s take is … well, it’s Trump’s take.
We are not in a trade war with China, that war was lost many years ago by the foolish, or incompetent, people who represented the U.S. Now we have a Trade Deficit of $500 Billion a year, with Intellectual Property Theft of another $300 Billion. We cannot let this continue!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 4, 2018
So, basically the trade version of his famous campaign appeal to black voters: “What the hell do you have to lose?” Answer: China’s first round of tariffs hit Trump-voting areas particularly hard and the second round doesn’t look much different.