The last thing the world needed right now was a trade war; yet because of Trump’s impulsive policies, and China’s retaliation, we find ourselves in one. China on Monday imposed tariffs on 128 US imports worth $3 billion, including fruit and pork. This move is thought to be a reaction to US duties on Chinese steel and aluminium, which Trump said were ‘necessary’ for US national security, and that Beijing said “seriously infringed” Chinese interests.
Here again is a classical example of the Trump doctrine, dismissing and delegitimsing the international norms and diplomacy held scared. By doing away with the duties, Trump showed disregard for the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and presented the United States as an unreliable partner to trade with. Doing away with diplomatic decency may win Trump some national popularity, but will do much to harm the US’s international reputation in the long run.
Trump’s trade policy was intended to lower the $375 billion US trade deficit with China. What is unfortunate is that imposing duties does not effectively solve anything. Much of the U.S. trade deficit with China is really a deficit with the countries that sell components to Chinese industry; thus a trade war with China is more likely to harm countries like South Korea and Japan, countries which are allies of the US. If the US wanted to lower China’s surplus, it should do so by working with those allies, not making them causalities in a trade war.
In the end, trade wars are bad and hurt everyone in the process, the US perhaps most of all. It is unclear how US duties will affect China, but if it does hurt Chinese trades, we can be sure that the setbacks will trickle down to Pakistan as well.