Donald J. Trump is the only president in history who is criticized for delivering on his campaign promises.
Back on the campaign trail in 2016, candidate Trump outlined his plans for an American economic revival. He promised a “bold new tax reform.” Done. He promised to “scale back years of disastrous regulations.” Done. He said he would unleash American energy. Done. Last – and what he described as the “foundation for everything” — was trade.
The president, thus far, has done what he has promised in delivering on trade reform. Last November, the president successfully negotiated and signed the U.S. Mexico Canada Agreement, an agreement that put American workers and businesses first. Under his proposal – which has yet to be brought to the U.S. House floor by Nancy Pelosi – the new pact would add $68.2 billion to the U.S. economy and create 176,000 new jobs.
He said he would exit the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Done. He said he would direct the secretary of commerce to identify every violation of trade agreements a foreign country is currently using to harm our workers. Done. He said he would instruct the U.S. trade representative to bring trade cases against China. Done.
The president promised: “If China does not stop its illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets and intellectual property, I will apply countervailing duties until China ceases and desists.”
Which brings us to present day.
After high-stakes trade negotiations broke down last week – reportedly because the Chinese started reneging on their end of the deal — the administration-imposed 25% tariffs on $250 billion worth of Chinese goods. Do not expect President Trump to back down.
First, he’s negotiating from a position of strength. Thanks to all of the other economic policies he’s enacted, the U.S. economy is the hottest in the world. GDP growth in the first quarter was a whopping 3.2 percent, smashing expectations. Wages are rising, unemployment is at a 50-year low, and for the first time ever, there are more job openings than unemployed workers.
China, on the other hand, is experiencing an economic slowdown threatening President Xi’s control of his own politburo. For all of 2018, China’s state-run economy expanded at 6.6 percent, the slowest rate since 1990. In addition, its population is aging and its manufacturing jobs are declining.
Last year, after President Trump’s first round of 25 percent tariffs against China went into effect, the U.S. saw companies and consumers pay only 4.5% more, with the other 20.5% falling on Chinese producers, according to EconPol Europe, a network of researchers in the European Union. The fact is, China – not the U.S. — is bearing the brunt of this trade impasse.
Tariffs, for the president, are about achieving free, fair and reciprocal trade deals and, in regard to China, protecting our national and economic security.
China has backtracked on every commitment it has made since it was allowed into the World Trade Organization and President Trump will not tolerate it. China’s communist government subsidizes its industries, engages in cyberespionage to steal trade and military secrets and forces companies to hand over technology to the government if they want to do business in China.
These unacceptable practices pose a direct threat to America’s economic well-being and national security. Donald Trump is the first president to stand up to China’s economic aggression and repeated violations of international trade rules.
For too long, the Washington establishment made believe the Chinese communist regime would reform itself as it grew wealthy from U.S. and Western investment. Instead, Beijing has doubled down on espionage, militarization and authoritarian rule.
President Trump’s Chinese tariffs represent the first line of defense against Chinese economic aggression. He promised his voters he would stand up to China on the campaign trail, and like his other promises, he’s delivering.