As the trade war with China — caused by tariffs demanded by Donald Trump — heats up, the editors of the Wall Street Journal have taken the president to task, sarcastically mocking him as a "master negotiator" who has yet to negotiate any deals while causing damage to the U.S. economy.
Under the snippy headline"So much trade losing," the lead editorial compared the Trump trade war to the start of Civil War that led to nothing but tragedy for the rebels of the South.
"The shooting has begun in the U.S.-China trade war, and let’s hope it’s not Fort Sumter," the piece began. "The South figured the Civil War would last a few weeks, but things happened. That’s the nature of trade wars as well, and while no one is likely to win this confrontation, both sides could certainly lose."
Noting the launching of Trump's tariffs with the U.S. "imposing tariffs of 25% on $34 billion of Chinese imports, and Beijing retaliated on an equal value of U.S. goods," the Journal said the war has already battered soybean farmers deep in Trump country, as well as a wide range of U.S. products.
"The damage is already serious for American soybean farmers whose biggest customer is China. They now face a 28% tariff while competitors in Brazil and elsewhere pay no duty. The cash price for U.S. soybeans recently fell to its lowest level in about a decade," they wrote. "Producers of beef, pork, chicken and seafood will also take a hit. U.S. automakers, which will now pay a 40% tariff after it had recently fallen to 15%, will lose sales of highly profitable SUVs that are increasingly popular with Chinese consumers"
"Meanwhile, American consumers will pay more for cars and health care due to U.S. tariffs on Chinese-made auto parts and medical instruments," they continued. "For example, world-leading semiconductor companies are upset that chips made in the U.S. and sent to China for assembly or testing will face a high tariff on their total value when they return. Some firms may cut China out of their supply chain, but in other cases it will make economic sense to move U.S. production overseas."
The opinion piece went on to point out that Trump is hurting his own base while killing jobs.
"Anecdotal evidence is growing of tariff-related investment delays and layoffs. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce this week released state-by-state data of the damage coming from tariffs, and 17 of the 20 worst hit states voted for Mr. Trump in 2016. This isn’t the 'winning' those voters had in mind," the piece pointed out.
The editors then lowered the boom on Trump over his trade bungling, mocking his claim of being a great negotiator.
"The best way out of this showdown is for the two sides to call a truce and negotiate a new trade understanding. Yet neither Donald Trump nor Xi Jinping wants to look like the one standing down, so escalation is more likely than retreat," they wrote. "As the tariff casualties mount, even many Trump voters are going to ask: When is the master negotiator actually going to negotiate a better trade deal?"
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