Don’t Expect Trump’s China Tariffs Anytime Soon

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Because the Trump regime has quietly rolled back most of his tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, I've speculated that his tariffs on imports from China may never actually happen and I'm feeling a little more confident about that prediction today.

We still don't know what the Trump regime will impose tariffs on because Trump did not sign any tariffs into law last week. Trump signed an order directing his subordinates to recommend a list of imports to impose tariffs on.

It now appears that we won't know what Trump will actually impose tariffs on until at least June if not later. Trump's trade representative stated yesterday that the period of public comment on the tariffs will last at least 60 days if not longer and the final list won't be finalized until sometime after that.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said he anticipates about 60 days worth of public comment on a soon-to-be published tariff list, but added that it would take years to bring the U.S.-China trading relationship “to a good place.” [...]

The 60 days refers to the time frame anticipated for public response. A determination on a final list and an effective date would be made thereafter,” the official said, adding that the full process could take longer than 60 days.

All told, it could be at least August or even next Fall before the White House publishes a final list of imports they'll impose tariffs on if they ever do. And beyond that, we don't know when the final list of tariffs will take effect.

I expect the initial list the Trump regime posts next week will be whittled down significantly, but not because of public comments (which will probably be rigged). The period of months between the publication of the initial list and a final list is more than enough time for an army of lobbyists, special interests, candidates, and sitting congressmen to weigh in against them.

On this occasion, I'm probably going to agree with the lobbyists in most cases. Trump and Robert Lighthizer are playing with matches and Trump doesn't even know what a trade deficit is or why we have one.

It may be true that China's policies governing intellectual property are predatory, but it's also true that everything Trump touches turns to shit.

  • muselet

    The story of China tariffs dropped off the front pages and the first segment of the evening news. For Donald Trump, it was fun while it lasted, and now it’s time to find a new story to distract from the Robert Mueller investigation.

    Expanding on your metaphor, Ashby, Trump has a box of matches and is looking for another pool of gasoline to play in.


    • JMAshby

      Still, I expect the market will drop off a cliff again when the initial list is published and again when the final list is published. The way they’ve rolled this (and the metal policy) out is just about the only way you could tank the market multiple times for the same reason. And in the case of metals, it was all for naught.

      • One would think “the market” would learn better.

    • ninjaf

      Or when they have a competitive district in the mid-terms they need to try to “shore up” support in, a la Pennsylvania.