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In this file photo taken on November 9, 2017, US President Donald Trump (L) shakes hand with China's President Xi Jinping in Beijing. - US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will discuss trade on the sidelines of a Group of 20 summit in Argentina this month, a senior US official said November 13, 2018. Top White House economic aide Larry Kudlow said the high-level efforts continue to resolve the US-China trade war, and follow Trump's recent telephone call with Xi."Right now we're having communications at all levels of US and Chinese government," Kudlow told CNBC. (Photo by Fred DUFOUR / AFP)FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images
By now it has become pretty clear that Trump's trade wars are a failing proposition for the United states. He had promised to get our country's workers a better deal during his 2016 campaign, but current results show that has not materialized, and much can be attributed to his policy on trade. His belief that tariffs would strong arm Canada and Mexico into renegotiations about the North American Free Trade Agreement have not happened.
His slapping 25% tariffs on imports from China to produce gains from that country have also not happened, and they are unlikely to. So far China hasn’t budged on Trump’s demands.
The following Op Ed makes the case for Trump to "turn around" his trade strategy at the G20 summit in Argentina this month.
The world’s two largest economies — represented by President Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping — will be holding talks at this week’s G20 meeting in Buenos Aires.
Normally, the United States’ competitive but cooperative relationship with China would ensure a tense but productive conversation. Thanks to Trump’s decision to wage tariff war on China, however, it’s tough to predict what will happen this time.
Getting American workers a better deal was one of Trump’s biggest campaign promises.
He’s certainly taken plenty of action to rachet up the trade pressure on the other major world economies.
First, he implemented about $10 billion worth of tariffs on imports of washing machines and solar panels; those took effect in January. Then, in February, came steep steel and aluminum tariffs that targeted many of our trade allies, including Mexico and Canada.
Trump believed the tariffs would force Mexico and Canada to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.
They did not.
In September, the three countries agreed to a new U.S.-Mexico-Canada trade agreement, and it contains some modest new protections for American workers. But the result fell short of the major promises Trump made, and most of those improvements were cribbed from the Trans-Pacific Partnership — a deal that Trump scrapped when he took office.
Plus, the legislatures of all three countries have to sign off on the deal, and there’s plenty of evidence to suggest they will not.
Similarly, Trump’s decision to brandish tariffs against China is unlikely to produce the gains he’s promised.
He imposed 25 percent tariffs on imported Chinese products in July and September. Yet so far China hasn’t budged on Trump’s demands, which include reducing our bilateral trade deficit, improving market access for U.S. companies, and better protecting U.S. intellectual property.
Some of Trump’s demands, especially related to markets and intellectual property, are correct. But tariff threats won’t persuade China to change.
If anything, China is digging in. At the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit this month, officials failed to agree on a joint statement as the U.S. and China fought over trade and security.
Meanwhile, the U.S. stock market just registered its worst Thanksgiving week since 2011, and the International Monetary Fund warned last monththat it is lowering its global growth projections, partly because of “rising trade barriers.”
Everyone loses in a trade war. This week, Trump has the chance to try a different approach. He must take it.
This commentary is from The Chronicle’s editorial board.