U.S. President Donald Trump famously tweeted that “trade wars were good, and easy to win” in 2018 as he began to impose tariffs on about US$360 billion of imports from China. Turns out he was wrong on both counts.
Even before the coronavirus infected millions of Americans and sparked the steepest economic downturn since the Great Depression, China was withstanding Trump’s tariff salvos, according to the very metrics he used to justify them. Once China got the virus under control, demand for medical equipment and work-from-home gear expanded its trade surplus with the U.S. despite the levies.
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“China is too big and too important to the world economy to think that you can cut it out like a paper doll” said Mary Lovely, an economics professor at Syracuse University. “The Trump administration had a wake-up call.”