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On Eve of China Tariff List Release, Does Trump Administration Have a Coherent Strategy to Deal With China Trade Deficit?

Statement of Lori Wallach, Director, Public Citizen’s Global Trade Watch

Note: The Trump administration on Friday plans to issue a revised list of Chinese products that will be subject to tariffs as part of the Section 301 trade enforcement action against Chinese forced technology transfer and theft.

What the American public needs to know is whether this administration has a coherent strategy to address our long-term and massive structural trade deficits with China that have wiped out 3.4 million American jobs since 2001 and how these tariffs fit into that strategy.

It remains to be seen if the administration even will follow through on this enforcement action, given that the administration already caved in once, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross are pursuing a tactic – which has failed repeatedly in the past – of seeking promises of short-term deals for China to buy more U.S. goods instead of addressing the underlying unfair Chinese trade policies.

Candidate Trump promised America’s voters that he would quickly fix our China trade disaster. President Trump’s endless and outrageous insults and histrionics cannot distract from the reality that to date he has miserably failed to deliver on his China trade promises. Our trade deficit with China has grown considerably since Trump was elected, and American job outsourcing continues and will intensify given that his tax scam was packed with incentives to relocate U.S. production offshore.

It would be great if Trump had lined up the rest of the world to take on Beijing for its litany of unfair trade practices and suppression of democracy and independent unions, but that’s the stuff of wishful thinking. Now the question is whether the tariffs being announced will even be enacted and, after 3.4 million American jobs have been lost to unfair China trade since 2001, the tariffs are part of a coherent strategy to address the underlying Chinese policies causing the massive structural trade deficit.