Ross After Imposing Tariffs: We’re Against Protectionism

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

It has not garnered as much headline attention as Trump's ongoing trade war with China and his budding trade war with Europe but, as you may know, Trump also started a small trade war with India over the summer and American and Indian officials are just now starting to publicly talk about resolving it.

They're talking -- but a resolution is nowhere in sight because it's difficult to resolve a conflict when you can't agree to one version of empirical reality.

Although the Trump regime jumpstarted this trade war by ending India's privileged trade status for developing economies -- meaning exemptions from tariffs were eliminated -- Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross spoke at a summit in New Delhi this morning where he said the United States is determined to reduce "protectionist barriers."

You know, barriers like the ones Ross himself imposed over the summer.

There were hopes a trade deal between the two countries would be worked out when Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited the U.S. last week, but no agreement materialized.

Ross said his talks with [Indian trade minister Piyush Goyal] he’ll stress that Washington is determined to reduce protectionist trade barriers.

The trade deficit which arises mainly because of artificial barriers, protectionist barriers that countries have thrown up,” Ross said. “That’s the one we are concerned with, that’s the one we are determined to reduce and we think that we will make progress there.”

More than any other nation in the world today, the United States under Trump and Wilbur Ross has "thrown up" protectionist barriers. It's not even close.

"Artificial barriers" may contribute to our trade deficit, but they're very far away from the only or even the biggest factor.

You would obviously be right to say that India's tariffs of 100 percent on Harley Davidson motorcycles will contribute to our trade deficit, but those retaliatory tariffs were imposed in response to Trump's actions.

We have a service and consumer-driven economy that thrives when imports are cheap and the purchasing power of the dollar is high. Our economy and the global economy is faltering because Trump is disrupting the systems of trade and commerce that feed our economy and the economies of other nations. Trump is raising the price of imports we depend on and reducing demand for exports that other countries depend on.

In a healthy global economy, it's inevitable that we will run trade deficits with foreign economies of significant scale and trying to fight it is like trying to fight the laws of physics.

Just thinking about how many trade conflicts the next administration will have to resolve is daunting.

  • muselet

    The bilateral trade between the two nations is close to $90 billion.

    And Donald Trump is perfectly content to piss that away in search of a win! against … well, pretty much any other country, at this point.

    As for Wilbur Ross’s professed distaste for “artificial barriers, protectionist barriers that countries have thrown up,” that’s just the meaningless flannel of someone who doesn’t know what he’s talking about. Ross has bought into Trump’s vision: the US has the largest economy in the world, so we should have a trade surplus with everyone else.

    Maybe cabinet officers—and presidents, for that matter—should be required to pass a remedial economics class as a condition of service.