Trump recently boasted that some American companies are shifting production and sourcing goods outside of China; specifically naming Vietnam as one country that is now producing goods for American consumers.
There is evidence that a limited number of American companies have shifted small portions of their production to Vietnam whenever possible, but the relatively small nation of Vietnam will never be able to match the industrial output of China, a nation of nearly 1.4 billion people.
Even if that were not the case, however, it would be no reason to celebrate according to Trump who says Vietnam is worse than China.
"Almost all countries in this world take tremendous advantage of the United States. It's unbelievable," he said in the lengthy interview.
Casting his eye over the wider landscape, Trump also lashed out at close partners Vietnam, Germany and Japan.
Vietnam is "even worse than China" when it comes to unfair trading practices, he said. Vietnam is the "single worst abuser."
I audibly shrieked when I first read this because it has been less than a month since Trump celebrated the small but measurable shift in production from China to Vietnam.
I don't know if this is an indication that Trump intends to impose tariffs on Vietnamese goods at some point in the future, but it does support the popular theory that Trump will pick a fight with a new boogeyman even if his trade war with China ended tomorrow.
Trump did not list any specific reasons why Vietnam is "worse than China," probably because he doesn't know any specific reasons. Most American exports face tariffs of 15 percent in Vietnam which imposes tariffs on products that their own industries manufacture. This promotes growth in domestic manufacturing and has made it possible for Vietnam to take orders from a limited number of companies that previously sourced their goods from China. The ability to import products from Vietnam for little to no cost has made it more attractive to foreign investors.
Imports from Vietnam increased by about 0.5 percent between October 2018 and March 2019 according to UBS.