Anybody who hoped that President Donald Trump would reconsider overnight his decision to impose a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum and risk setting off a global trade war was disappointed this morning when he doubled down in a tweet.
At 5:50 a.m. Washington time this morning the President posted this on Twitter:
“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”
Apparently in the face of intense criticism from U.S. allies, countries that would get hit hard by the new tariffs (Canada and Brazil, for example), and objections from Republicans in Congress, the President did “reconsider.”
Trade wars are good. And easy to win.
In addition this morning the President added a new issue to the trade agenda, something he called reciprocal taxation. In an 8:57 a.m. Twitter post he wrote:
“When a country Taxes our products coming in at, say, 50%, and we Tax the same product coming into our country at ZERO, not fair or smart. We will soon be starting RECIPROCAL TAXES so that we will charge the same thing as they charge us. $800 Billion Trade Deficit-have no choice!”
I haven’t been able to find any expert willing to say what this might mean or to opine on whether the President could impose reciprocal taxes without agreement from Congress. I’m not sure what countries (Japan?) or categories of goods (agricultural products?) would be most affected by reciprocal taxes.
Stay tuned. It’s only noon New York time as I write this.