Trump’s trade boasts in Asia mask looming China problem

President Donald Trump may be boasting that his Asia trip will multiply into more than a "trillion dollars’ worth of stuff," but the real work on trade has been left undone.

All his braggadocio on business deals struck on his trip belie the simmering trade tensions between the U.S. and China that many analysts believe will now come to the fore.

“For me, we’re moving inexorably toward the edge of the cliff,” said Dan Ikenson, head of the Cato Institute’s Center for Trade Policy Studies.

Despite Trump’s glee over $250 billion in corporate deals announced in Beijing, he personally had little hand in them and they collectively did nothing to address his main grievance over Chinese industrial policies that restrict American firms and contribute to the large trade deficit between the world’s two biggest economies.

Bloomberg did a detailed look at the deals announced during the stop in China Continue reading “Trump’s trade boasts in Asia mask looming China problem”

Trump’s Asia trip highlights lack of trade deals

President Donald Trump is likely to tout new business deals as he barnstorms through Asia this week, but his trip is highlighting a broader failure on the world stage: None of the countries he’s visiting wants to negotiate a two-way trade deal with the United States.

Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping are expected to celebrate a number of new business agreements when the two leaders meet on Wednesday and Thursday, thanks to a delegation of nearly 30 American companies that Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has brought to Beijing. Xi could also announce progress in policy areas ranging from investment to drug approvals. Trump has also talked about making arms sales to South Korea and Japan.

But by pulling out of the 12-nation TPP on his third day in office, Trump walked away from free trade deals with Japan, the world’s third largest economy, and from Vietnam, one of the Continue reading “Trump’s Asia trip highlights lack of trade deals”

U.S. trade deficit grew again under Trump in September

The U.S. trade deficit widened in September and remained on track in President Donald Trump’s first year to exceed the 2016 level, a Commerce Department report Friday showed.

The trade gap, which measures the difference between imports and exports, increased 1.7 percent in September to $43.5 billion. The deficit for the first 9 months of the year totaled $405.2 billion, compared to $370.7 billion during the same period in 2016.

During the presidential campaign, Trump and his surrogates railed against the size of the deficit, with key campaign aide Peter Navarro, who is now a White House adviser, asserting they could eliminate the trade deficit "within a year or two."

The trade gap with China, which Trump repeatedly blasted during last year’s campaign, decreased slightly in September to $34.6 billion.

But it also remains on track to exceed the 2016 level. It totaled Continue reading “U.S. trade deficit grew again under Trump in September”

The real reasons behind the Toyota and Mazda announcement of a new U.S. factory

Japanese automakers Toyota and Mazda earned a lot of political capital from President Donald Trump on Friday after they announced plans to build a new $1.6 billion joint production facility in the United States, creating as many as 4,000 new jobs.

“A great investment in American manufacturing!,” an ebullient Trump wrote on Twitter, in response to the news.

But the decision may have been driven in part by other policy factors — such as rising U.S. fuel economy standards and generous local incentives — even as Trump threatens to tighten automotive trade rules under NAFTA and impose duties on imports, analysts said.

Trump won election last year promising to bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States, including by renegotiating NAFTA and promising to slap a border tax on any imported goods. Although he has backed off the latter threat, talks on renegotiating the quarter-century old North Continue reading “The real reasons behind the Toyota and Mazda announcement of a new U.S. factory”

Trump delays announcement of trade action against China

In the latest delay of a White House trade move, a planned Friday announcement of President Donald Trump’s trade action against China has been postponed, two people familiar with the matter said.

Sources previously told POLITICO Trump was slated to hold an event at the White House on Friday in which he would direct U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open an investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 over what the administration views as Chinese violations of U.S. intellectual property rights and forced technology transfer.

The sources did not give an explanation for why the announcement was postponed, nor did they provide a date for when it would be rescheduled. A White House spokeswoman did not immediately comment.

The move would immediately ramp up tensions between Washington and Beijing — and could lead to steep tariffs on Chinese goods. Trump has expressed frustration in Continue reading “Trump delays announcement of trade action against China”

Sources: Trump administration to take action against China

The Trump administration is preparing to take action against China over trade as soon as this week, two administration officials familiar with the issues told POLITICO.

President Donald Trump will soon call on U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to open an investigation against China under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974 for violations of U.S. intellectual property rights and forced technology transfers.

As POLITICO reported earlier this week, senior Trump aides held a series of high-level meetings in recent days to finalize the decision, which is the culmination of three months of regular huddles on trade.

Trump’s aides have been deeply divided on trade, with top trade adviser Peter Navarro and chief strategist Steve Bannon calling for aggressive measures even as others like National Economic Council Director Gary Cohn have urged caution. But an administration official said the decision to launch a Section 301 investigation won Continue reading “Sources: Trump administration to take action against China”

Trump: I may slap both quotas and tariffs on steel

President Donald Trump told reporters Wednesday night that he may slap quotas and tariffs on steel, according to a newly released transcript of a previously off-the-record conversation on his way to Paris for meetings.

"Steel is a big problem," Trump said on board Air Force One. "I mean, they’re dumping steel. Not only China, but others. We’re like a dumping ground, OK? They’re dumping steel and destroying our steel industry. They’ve been doing it for decades, and I’m stopping it. It’ll stop."

Asked how he would do that, Trump replied: "There are two ways — quotas and tariffs. Maybe I’ll do both."

The exchange came as the Commerce Department is preparing to make its recommendation in two separate investigations into whether it is necessary to restrict steel and aluminum imports in order to protect national security.

The probes have raised worries about about a damaging trade war that Continue reading “Trump: I may slap both quotas and tariffs on steel”