Trump's trade triumph

Stephen Moore:
The media and other Trump haters can’t seem to let themselves admit it, but President Trump scored a big victory for the American economy on trade last week. Mr. Trump and the European Union reached a handshake deal that is designed to lower tariffs on both sides of the Atlantic. They agreed to shoot for zero tariffs on both sides of the Atlantic. Sounds like freer and fairer trade to me.

The exact details are still a bit murky, but what we do know is that the EU has pledged to lower its tariffs and other trade barriers on American soybeans, oil and gas, pharmaceutical products and certain manufactured goods. Mr. Trump promised to suspend some of the auto and aluminum and steel tariffs that he was threatening to whack the Eurozone with.

It gets better: The two sides also agreed in principle to find ways to combat “unfair trading practices, including intellectual property theft, forced technology transfers, industrial subsidies and distortions created by state owned enterprises.”

These are the very trade violations that Mr. Trump has been railing against for years — but that no president has done anything about. We don’t engage in these anti-trade activities — Europe does, Japan does and China does. Before Mr. Trump came on the scene most nations denied that this cheating and stealing were even happening.

Any progress in ending these unfair trade practices is an indisputable victory for the United States. Well done, Mr. President. You’ve accomplished something in 18 months that no president has in at least 30 years.

Yet the spin from many of the media and political pundits who spun this story begins by opining that Mr. Trump was the one who blinked here. The Politico story lead was amazing: “Trump Backs Off New Tariffs on EU in Retreat from Trade War.” Bloomberg also described the agreement as a “Trump retreat” and a “victory for the EU.”.

Excuse me. Retreating and backing down is how you describe the losers in a fight. Mr. Trump last week won a first round TKO. It’s like saying Sonny Liston beat Muhammad Ali even though it was Liston sprawled on the tarp.
This is the key point: Mr. Trump’s tariffs are meant to force other countries to lower theirs. It’s a dangerous game for sure, because it can risk a tit-for-tat trade war escalation — as we are now seeing with China. But Mr. Trump has always believed that the United States has the upper hand because of our massive consumer market. He believed that our trading partners would be forced to capitulate sooner rather than later.
There is more.

I can't decide whether Trump critics are blinded by hate or just ignorant.  It has been clear to me from the time he proposed tariffs at the G-20 meeting in Canada that it was a means to get to a free trade market with everyone.  He even offered it at that meeting.   Free trade has always been the endgame in the tariff disputes for Trump.  The car tariffs were enough to get the Germans attention as well as the criticism of their exposure to Russian coercion because of dependency on Russian gas.


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