Trump's trade war will end one way or another at some point in the future, whether Trump caves and declares victory with nothing to show for it or he's voted out of office, but the legacy of his trade war will be with us for many years to come.
One of the greatest risks of Trump's trade war is that Americans will permanently lose ground and access to foreign markets even after the trade war ends, a risk we're reminded of today as China has opened up their markets to Argentine soy farmers for the first time ever.
China understandably does not want to depend on imports of America ever again and they're taking steps to ensure they never will.
Argentina’s government announced on Tuesday that China would allow the import of its soymeal for the first time following decades of talks. That agreement will be formalized in Buenos Aires on Wednesday. [...]
Grain industry insiders said that the U.S.-China trade war had helped make Argentine soymeal exports more alluring as Beijing looks to diversify its supply options, and the deal could help local farmers make up lost ground on U.S. rivals.
Santiago del Solar, chief of staff to Argentina’s agriculture minister, said the deal was “simple good news.”
“We know that last year the possibility of selling soymeal to China was zero. Now we’ve opened the market, which is good for the whole value chain,” he told Reuters. “By the time of our next soy harvest in March, April and May we hope we will have the paperwork done and have the first shipments.”
Argentine soybean farmers may export up to 31 million tons of soybeans to China in 2020 according to Reuters. That's more than the total amount of soybeans that Americans exported to China (21.4 million tons) before Trump's trade war began. And as you know, American exports have fallen by over 80 percent.
Peering into the near future, it seems possible that the next presidential administration or at least the next session of Congress will find it necessary to announce more Trump-style bailouts for American farmers.
Trump is bailing out farmers because they've lost access to their biggest market, but what if that access is never restored? What if the current status quo becomes permanent even after Trump's trade war ends?
Some analysts believe Trump's trade war is just the beginning of a "decoupling" of the Chinese and American economies as China becomes increasingly assertive and determined to rely on its own home-grown intellectual property and technology; a goal made all the more important to them by Trump's trade war.
If that's the case, things may never be the same again even if the next president is Joe Biden or Elizabeth Warren or Kamala Harris or whoever.
Trump opened up Pandora's box, but I can't say he did it entirely alone. Misguided and false rhetoric about international trade poured into Democratic primary politics in 2015 long before Trump even sniffed the White House.