What Is the Endgame for the Trump Trade Wars?

What Is the Endgame for the Trump Trade Wars?
U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping meeting on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 8, 2017 (AP photo by Saul Loeb).

America’s trade war with China is back on. But where it is headed, no one knows.

Just after midnight on July 6, the United States began collecting 25 percent tariffs on $34 billion in imports from China. Beijing immediately retaliated with similar duties on U.S. exports. President Donald Trump has already ordered tariffs on another $16 billion in Chinese exports for later this summer, after the comment period on the American list closes, and China will retaliate again. Assuming that happens as planned, the Trump administration will have levied tariffs on over $100 billion in imports into the United States. The global tally for retaliation against U.S. exports, including by Canada, Mexico and the European Union over steel and aluminum tariffs, will be some $75 billion, according to an analysis by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

Cries of pain from U.S. manufacturers facing increased input costs and American farmers terrified about losing their largest overseas market were getting louder even before the latest round of the Trump trade wars. Yet Trump is threatening even more tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in imports on motor vehicles and potentially all imports from China. Despite all the activity, there is still no sign of a coherent trade strategy.

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