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.