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President Donald Trump speaks about a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico President Donald Trump speaks about a new trade agreement with Canada and Mexico during an event at the White House, Washington, Jan. 29, 2020 (AP photo by Evan Vucci).

No, Trump’s Trade Policies Still Won’t Save American Manufacturing

Tuesday, May 19, 2020

On the heels of Sen. Josh Hawley’s call in an op-ed to abolish the World Trade Organization, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer also took to the opinion pages of The New York Times to declare the end of “the era of offshoring.” President Donald Trump’s aggressively unilateral trade policies, naturally, got most of the credit. As with Hawley’s fuzzy plan for a club of “free nations” aligned against China, it’s not quite clear whether Lighthizer thinks protectionism should still be part of the plan to “Bring the jobs back to America.” But with the United States potentially on the brink of another Great Depression, battered by the coronavirus pandemic, two prominent officials within a week calling for protectionist-sounding policies is unsettling, to say the least.

Lighthizer argued in his op-ed, published just a week after Hawley’s, that American companies were already rethinking their “craze” for offshoring, in his words, thanks to the Trump administration’s strict enforcement of trade deals, renegotiation of allegedly bad ones and confrontation with China. Lighthizer insisted the pandemic is accelerating that trend and, along with the administration’s trade policy, will deliver on Trump’s promise to bring back manufacturing jobs. ...

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