Trade Talks With China Are a Bigger Shitshow Than You Imagine

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Officially, Trump's position on foreign trade is incoherent at best and one possible reason for that is Trump's top cabinet officials can't even agree on a single strategy among themselves.

While the Chinese have presented a unified front against Trump's on-again, off-again trade war, the New York Times reports that Trump's inner circle have spent as much or more time arguing with each other as they have the Chinese.

At one point, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Peter Navarro, Trump's top trade adviser, got into an argument that devolved into a shouting match.

In fact, the Chinese were well aware of the divisions in the administration’s trade team — and set out to exploit them, according to people briefed on the deliberations. They recognized that Mr. Trump’s advisers were split between implacable critics of China, like Mr. Lighthizer and Peter Navarro, the director of the White House national trade council; and free-traders who were more sympathetic, like Mr. Kudlow, Mr. Ross and Mr. Mnuchin, a former Goldman Sachs executive. [...]

For months, the Chinese cultivated Mr. Mnuchin as part of a concerted effort to establish him as the primary American interlocutor. And to the dismay of some of his colleagues, he embraced that role — most visibly when Mr. Trump sent his own trade delegation to Beijing early this month.

During that trip, Mr. Mnuchin agreed to a private meeting with China’s top economic official, Liu He, without Mr. Navarro or any other members of the American delegation. He and Mr. Navarro stepped outside to engage in a profanity-laced shouting match, an unmistakable demonstration to the Chinese of their deep differences of opinions.

I hate to side with any of these jackasses, but Steve Mnuchin is not as dumb as he pretends to be on behalf of Trump. Peter Navarro, on the other hand, is a Grade-A nutcase whose worldview and ideology is permanently lodged somewhere in the 1980s.

And Navarro is apparently causing other problems.

The Associated Press reports that Navarro has gone to war with the State Department over a deal that allows Emirati airlines to sell flights out of the United States.

In the airlines dispute, the most explosive issue was so-called Fifth Freedom flights, by which Emirati airlines fly directly from the United States to places like Europe, never stopping in the UAE. The major U.S. airlines loathe such flights, which compete with their own lucrative routes.

Navarro has insisted that the deal includes a “freeze” in such flights. The State Department, which overseas international civil aviation agreements, insists it does not.

From the start, Navarro sought to exert influence over the negotiations, pushing for stricter limitations on Persian Gulf airlines, according to half a dozen U.S. officials and other individuals involved in the dispute. They weren’t authorized to discuss the issue publicly and requested anonymity.

I think we can gather that Navarro not only hates free trade, he also hates the free market.

I wouldn't necessarily say we shouldn't protect our own businesses but, in case you hadn't noticed, American airlines are mostly shit and they need competition.

  • waspuppet

    Trump and his henchmen don’t even know what they want, because all Trump really wants is “you do anything it ever pops into my head to tell you to do, and I do anything I feel like.”

    That’s not how you negotiate. If Trump were a successful businessman, he’d know that.

  • muselet

    Nothing says “world leadership” quite like Steve Mnuchin and Peter Navarro getting into a slanging match in China, during trade talks.

    I don’t really care how much these fools humiliate themselves, but I do care how much these fools are making the US look bad in the eyes of the world.

    Only the best people.


    • Aynwrong

      The very best…

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