Trump’s Trade Policy on China

By Hunter Wallace

In recent weeks, I have been focusing a lot more on trade policy. Much of this has been driven by my anticipation of Donald Trump announcing firm details on what intends to do about China.

In preparation for this, I read and posted a review of Clyde Prestowitz’s book The Betrayal of American Prosperity. Now that the details are out, I can say for certain that Trump’s trade plan addresses many of the issues that were raised in Prestowitz’s book about our relationship with China: currency manipulation, labor and environmental standards, accumulation of US Treasury bonds, the authoritarian structure of the Chinese government, intellectual property theft, and the various ways China subsidizes its exports with incentive packages.

Trump’s trade plan starts by pointing out the disaster that China’s entry into the WTO in 2001 has been for the US trade deficit. He boldly announces that China will be labeled a “currency manipulator” on “Day 1” of a Trump administration. If this sounds familar, it is because Mitt Romney made the exact same promise in the 2012 presidential election. Take a look at what Romney said he would do about China in 2012. Now see if you can spot any substantial difference between Romney and what Trump is saying he would do about China in 2015.

Both Romney and Trump want what they call “free and fair trade.” In order to being about “free and fair trade,” the Treasury Secretary would have to label China a “currency manipulator” and file a complaint with the World Trade Organization (WTO). Then the whole matter would have to go through the WTO’s dispute settlement process and its outcome would depend on the judgement of an independent panel. China would then argue that the IMF has said the yuan is not undervalued.

In other words, this will all end up being decided by an unaccountable globalist institution which will tell us what we can and can’t do. What do you suppose are the chances that the WTO will force “fair trade” on China by leveling all the key structural differences that gives Chinese exports an advantage in the American market?

Trump’s plan sounds good to populist ears and will likely win over voters. I haven’t looked at anything the other Republican candidates have proposed on trade. As long as we play by the WTO’s globalist rulebook though, I doubt anything will change for American workers.

18 Comments

  1. Here is a repost from a previous thread:

    I have read (rather skimmed) Trump’s China trade policy. As expected, it’s full of generalities and platitudes but very little specifics. He’s saying nothing I haven’t heard before from other politicians concerning “fair” trade. Here is what I have the most problem with:

    China’s woeful lack of reasonable environmental and labor standards represent yet another form of unacceptable export subsidy. How can American manufacturers, who must meet very high standards, possibly compete with Chinese companies that care nothing about their workers or the environment? We will challenge China to join the 21 st Century when it comes to such standards.

    This is an issue of national sovereignty. The US and its voters have chosen to erect a massive Federal regulatory regime. People have very little understanding about the cost to comply with Federal regulations. This, in part, reduces the competitiveness to produce here. For example, if a site is cleared to build a plant in the US, if you encounter a bird’s nest they are not allowed to cut the tree down prior to having the nest transferred. Otherwise there will be some hefty fines imposed. Does anyone here think that in China there is any wailing or gnashing of teeth if a birds nest is destroyed? They cut the tree down and move on.

    Anyone who thinks that Trump or any politician will convince China that it must adopt the US’s job killing regulatory regime is foolish. China isn’t stupid enough to put itself at a competitive disadvantage. And the US has no standing to demand that foreign countries must adopt US laws.

  2. “What do you suppose are the chances that the WTO will force “fair trade” on China by leveling all the key structural differences that gives Chinese exports an advantage in the American market?” – the WTO has consistently sided against the US, and the globalists who negotiated it practically assured that outcome by giving the US the same vote as any other country in it.

    • That’s right.

      Because we have surrendered our sovereignty to the WTO, none of this really addresses the real issue which is the pipe dream that individuals and corporations can compete on a “level playing field,” but countries don’t compete and rig the game.

  3. It sounds to me like that would lead to a race to the bottom. Do we really want, say, the environmental, labor, and worker safety standards of Bangladesh or Guatemala?

    Did we have the environment and labor conditions of Bangladesh prior to the enacting of EPA and OSHA in the 1970s?

  4. I don’t think the lack of child labor is driving companies out of the US. And although there are laws regarding collective bargaining, most Southern states are right to work.

      • The South’s right-to-work laws illustrate how even within the Union where there are no tariffs between states and in spite of a common currency that the states, not just individuals or corporations, still compete with each other. International trade reflects the same principle, but on a more massive scale.

  5. Donald J. Trump ?@realDonaldTrump 5h5 hours ago
    .@WSJ and dopey Karl Rove made a mistake and purposely mischaracterized my statement on the terrible TPP deal.

    Donald J. Trump ?@realDonaldTrump 7h7 hours ago
    Why does the failing @WSJ write a false editorial about me and let dummy @KarlRove make the same mistake in the same edition of the paper?

    Donald J. Trump ?@realDonaldTrump 7h7 hours ago
    .@KarlRove is a biased dope who wrote falsely about me re China and TPP. This moron wasted $430 million on political campaigns and lost 100%

  6. Aren’t collective bargaining and child labor laws examples of the burdensome government regulations which should be eliminated?

    Why not? If child labor laws were eliminated, would 6 year old White children start working in factories tomorrow?

  7. Maybe because we don’t want to exploit poor people anymore who use their children to earn income?

    Don’t take offense to what I say but you sound like a SWPL who in 2015 moralizes about the evils of slavery. These people believe that they are morally superior to those evil White Southerners because they oppose slavery. And everyday they thank their secular god that the FedGov and its righteous military stepped in and wiped one of the greatest evils of all time from the face of the earth. They have convinced themselves that it is so that they show moral courage by opposing slavery in 2015 (#sobrave). There is not a single soul in the US who has any vested interest in slavery and therefore no one has a reason not to oppose the institution. When it comes to child labor, it’s easy to moralize that we are against child labor when it’s generally not practiced or needed anymore. Throughout human history child labor was generally the rule rather than the exception to the rule. Child labor is still practiced in many countries throughout the world. Unless you can provide evidence proving otherwise, parents did not put their children into labor as punishment, or because they dislike their children, or because they wanted to purchase a lot of non essential items for themselves. They put their children into labor as a necessity. If a parent needs to put their child into labor in order to make ends meet, working long hours in a field, factory, or sweatshop is the least of the child’s worries. Their biggest worries are having shelter and adequate food. It’s hard to image what real poverty looks like. Even poor people in the US aren’t really poor. Years ago while on a business tript I visited Peru. There you would see really poor people and poor children. The children there were dirty, had tattered clothes, no shoes, and no home. Their parents would put them into labor by having them wash car windows and beg for money. I’m sure this level of poverty existed in the US back when child labor was common. No one wants to see a child having to labor in the fields or in a sweatshop but it would be cruel to deny them the employment they need to survive. Would you deny employment to these children in order to prevent them from being exploited? These children might tell you that you have done them no favors.

    Anyone who claims that child labor laws were a moral imperative must also concede that the FedGov is morally superior to a child’s parents. There are no two ways about this. The reason why children are not at risk of being put into labor by their mean old parents today isn’t because the FedGov saved them. It’s because we are wealthy enough not to need to put children into labor in order to help provide for family’s most basic needs. The laws were not humane when they were initially enacted and they aren’t necessary today.

  8. Maybe because we don’t want to exploit poor people anymore who use their children to earn income?

    Don’t take offense to what I say but you sound like a SWPL who in 2015 moralizes about the evils of slavery. These people believe that they are morally superior to those evil White Southerners because they oppose slavery. And everyday they thank their secular god that the FedGov and its righteous military stepped in and wiped one of the greatest evils of all time from the face of the earth. They have convinced themselves that it is so that they show moral courage by opposing slavery in 2015 (#sobrave). There is not a single soul in the US who has any vested interest in slavery and therefore no one has a reason not to oppose the institution. When it comes to child labor, it’s easy to moralize that we are against child labor when it’s generally not practiced or needed anymore. Throughout human history child labor was generally the rule rather than the exception to the rule. Child labor is still practiced in many countries throughout the world. Unless you can provide evidence proving otherwise, parents did not put their children into labor as punishment, or because they dislike their children, or because they wanted to purchase a lot of non essential items for themselves. They put their children into labor as a necessity. If a parent needs to put their child into labor in order to make ends meet, working long hours in a field, factory, or sweatshop is the least of the child’s worries. Their biggest worries are having shelter and adequate food. It’s hard to image what real poverty looks like. Even poor people in the US aren’t really poor. Years ago while on a business tript I visited Peru. There you would see really poor people and poor children. The children there were dirty, had tattered clothes, no shoes, and no home. Their parents would put them into labor by having them wash car windows and beg for money. I’m sure this level of poverty existed in the US back when child labor was common. No one wants to see a child having to labor in the fields or in a sweatshop but it would be cruel to deny them the employment they need to survive. Would you deny employment to these children in order to prevent them from being exploited? These children might tell you that you have done them no favors.

    Anyone who claims that child labor laws were a moral imperative must also concede that the FedGov is morally superior to a child’s parents. There are no two ways about this. The reason why children are not at risk of being put into labor by their mean old parents today isn’t because the FedGov saved them. It’s because we are wealthy enough not to need to put children into labor in order to help provide for family’s most basic needs. The laws were not humane when they were initially enacted and they aren’t necessary today.

  9. Trump has now called Ben Carson’s stance moronic, creating a firestorm. Carson says “he’ll pray for Trump.”. Need I remind the readers of this blog that God does not hear the prayers of heretics? Ben Carson is a member of a cult- a rather bland one, to be sure but still a cult, nevertheless. Of course, with all of the churches in the United States (Protestant and Roman Catholic wing) now wanting to make rhe USA another Muslim out-cropping of Europe, I’ve lost all hope for this nation. They’re all cults now. God help the white man; God help the true Christians; God help the world.

  10. “Trump is getting slammed for allegedly not knowing that China isn’t part of the TPP. As he points out, China will be brought in later just like the WTO in 2001:”

    Part of it is US corporations currently operating factories in China want to move those factories to places like Vietnam and Cambodia because Chinese wages are going up.

    Their greed constantly pulls them towards trying to get zero labor costs but the more they drive down wages the more they drive down global demand.

    Their greed is one factor causing the global recession.

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