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Seen through razor wire, a U.S. flag flies near the International Bridge 1 Las Americas Seen through razor wire, a U.S. flag flies near the International Bridge 1 Las Americas, which connects Laredo, Texas, in the U.S. with Nuevo Laredo, Mexico, July 18, 2019 (AP photo by Marco Ugarte).

The Image of America Yanking Away the Welcome Mat Will Outlast Trump

Tuesday, Aug. 4, 2020

President Donald Trump touts them as campaign promises he has delivered on, but by reversing Washington’s long-standing commitment to open markets and clamping down on immigration, he may have done permanent damage to the U.S. economy and America’s global reputation. Tariffs, especially against China, are now higher than they have been in decades. American acceptance of refugees is sharply lower, and the Trump administration has recently turned its sights on temporary foreign workers and foreign students. Although the tariff increases and some of Trump’s executive actions against immigration could be undone if his Democratic challenger, Joe Biden, wins in November, their aftershocks will be felt long after Trump’s tenure.

Trump expected his tariff increases, and continued threats of more of them, to encourage manufacturers to relocate production to the United States, and to compel China to undertake structural reform of its state-led economy. But neither has happened. The tariffs on steel and aluminum raised costs for downstream producers, making them less able to compete with imports and making the U.S. a less attractive place for manufacturing. There has been some reshuffling of supply chains in response to fragilities exposed by the coronavirus pandemic, along with the tariffs, but it has mostly been to other locations in Asia. Today, Beijing is even less likely to loosen its grip on the economy in the face of Washington’s hostility, especially since Trump has made confronting China a major part of his reelection campaign. ...

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