Report: Trump Claims Credit For Ending Trade War He Started
President Donald Trump bragged on Twitter Friday morning about his “Phase One Deal” with China that reportedly will see the country increase American imports and toughen its intellectual property reforms.
But as Bloomberg’s David Fickling noted, “It’s good when a nation stops punching itself in the face, but how much better if it hadn’t started.”
After nearly two years of economic volatility due to “tariffs, counter-tariffs, meetings, bad-tempered tweets, and backroom maneuverings,” Fickling wrote, the beginning of a trade deal is finally taking shape.
But there is virtually nothing in the Phase One Deal that could not have been achieved without Trump’s trade war, he said, pointing out that “Intellectual property reform has been a long-standing project for President Xi Jinping. China’s first dedicated IP courts were established back in 2014 and have generally dealt fairly with non-Chinese litigants.”
Further, China’s commitment to boost agricultural imports with this deal, which Fickling noted one report says might not even be in writing, is nothing beyond what might have been predicted. Additionally, it is less likely that Trump’s tariff scheme and negotiating skills are to thank for the increased purchases and more likely that China’s current predicament is responsible.
This was the main plank of the earlier proposed deal that fell apart in May, and since then the devastation of China’s pork herd from African swine fever has left it even greater need of more imported protein. If you think China’s increased appetite for U.S. farm exports is a result of Beijing buckling before American economic might rather than an inevitable outcome of trade economics, then consider Brazil. Chinese leaders have swallowed their pride and made vigorous efforts to mend fences with the South American country, a far less powerful exporter of meat and oilseeds.
And last but not least, after wrecking America’s farming community with his trade war, Trump has now agreed to give up the only real leverage he had, eclipsing hope that he will be able to extract future concessions from China as the next phases of the trade deal move forward.
“If little has been achieved when leverage was at its highest,” Fickling wrote, “even less is going to be achieved once that leverage is ratcheted back down.”