Editorial: On the Trump trade tirade hit parade

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Is The Art of the Deal co-author out of his depth when it comes to spinning that deal on the global political stage?

That should be a key concern for Canada and other countries bracing for the long-term fallout from U.S. President Donald Trump’s erratic approach to foreign trade.

It should also increasingly be the worry for North American consumers who will soon be paying most of the freight for the intractable U.S.-China trade war. Estimates have Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods flowing into the country costing the U.S. more than US$100 billion annually.

As Gary Clyde Hufbauer, Peterson Institute for International Economics senior fellow, has pointed out, most of the estimated US$63 billion in tariff revenue collected from China through June of this year has been paid by American consumers and companies, not Chinese exporters.

Oxford Economics, meanwhile, notes in an early-August research briefing that global business pessimism has risen dramatically as concerns about the near-term risks to global growth continue to escalate.

The United States, Canada and other western countries have a host of legitimate beefs with China and its state-backed abuses of international trade and theft of western technologies.

President Trump single-handedly wields the most leverage of any world leader in challenging those real and perceived abuses and national security threats. The world’s two largest economies are, after all, inexorably intertwined. But Trump’s unpredictable forays into the art of trade-war deals are too often short on facts and long on bullying bluster.

That approach might make for entertaining theatre and likely keeps the other side guessing, but it is also keeping this side guessing, because there is little evidence that Trump’s art of the international deal is grounded in any astute long-term strategy.

There is, however, a lot of evidence that its costs will be borne long into the future by consumers and businesses in Canada and elsewhere in North America.