Trade

Biden Admin Reviewing Trump’s “National Security” Tariffs, Sanctions

SK Ashby
Written by SK Ashby

This was inevitable, but still welcome.

I've dedicated a lot of time to covering this topic so you're probably aware that Trump invoked "national security" to conduct the bulk of his trade war with the rest of the world and particularly China. Trump imposed tariffs in the name of "national security" and added Chinese-owned companies to the Commerce Department's blacklist for the same reason.

Trump even tried to ban TikTok in the name of national security, but the Trump regime never substantiated any of the claims against Chinese goods and companies they imposed duties and sanctions on. The federal judge that blocked Trump's ban on TikTok said as much when writing that the regime's charges were purely "hypothetical."

White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki spoke to reporters today and said that everything Trump did in the name of national security is now under review and that includes "phase one" of Trump's "biggest and greatest deal" with China.

Asked if President Joe Biden viewed the deal as still in effect, [Psaki] told a White House briefing: “Everything that the past administration has put in place is under review, as it relates to our national security approach, so I would not assume things are moving forward.”

Psaki said the Biden administration was focused on approaching the U.S.-China relationship “from a position of strength, and that means, coordinating and communicating with our allies and partners about how we’re going to work with China.” [...]

Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen told lawmakers before her confirmation that the Biden administration would conduct a comprehensive review of China’s implementation of the trade deal, and said Washington would work more closely with allies to address “abusive” practices by the world’s second-largest economy.

Reading between the lines, I think we can infer that Trump's half-assed trade deal will be phased out at some point in the coming months and replaced with something else.

It's not clear what something else will look like, but the most obvious counter short of continuing Trump's trade war would be to rejoin the Trans Pacific Partnership that the United States negotiated in the first place under President Obama.

Doing that will be politically difficult as it will require placating a liberal opposition that is - at least in my opinion -- almost as wrong about global trade as Trump was. Trump was only able to wage his trade war in the first place because liberal senators and former presidential candidates popularized the idea that trade deals dating back to the George HW. Bush administration were both A) the cause of all our economic problems 30 years later and B) the brainchild of Clinton-era Democrats and their evil "neoliberal" allies.

If our experience from the past several years -- from Trump's ineffective trade war to the pandemic's unique way of showing how much we need to work with the rest of world -- did not put that nonsense to rest, I don't know what will. But Biden may have the right rhetoric and enough political capital to change attitudes.

I wouldn't make the case that we need to go back to the same status quo that applied since the 1990s, but it should be abundantly clear that protectionist tariffs don't help anyone. Tariffs on foreign goods under Trump killed far more jobs than they created.

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade war with China has caused a peak loss of 245,000 U.S. jobs, but a gradual scaling back of tariffs on both sides would boost growth and lead to an additional 145,000 jobs by 2025, a study commissioned by the U.S.-China Business Council (USCBC) shows.

The group, which represents major American companies doing business in China, said the study by Oxford Economics also includes an “escalation scenario” which estimates a significant decoupling of the world’s two largest economies could shrink U.S. GDP by $1.6 trillion over the next five years. This could result in 732,000 fewer U.S. jobs in 2022 and 320,000 fewer jobs by 2025, it said.