The editorial board of the Wall Street Journal bluntly called out President Donald Trump for threatening to impose more tariffs on China in an off-the-cuff weekend tweet, saying he is endangering the prospects of any comprehensive trade deal and possibly his own presidency.
According to the Journal, Trump is engaging in "brinksmanship" that could have a devastating effect on the economy.
"Mr. Trump’s unilateral tariffs have had a scattershot logic focused on the dubious measure of the U.S. trade deficit. He has picked needless fights with allies over steel and aluminum. But the one country where there is a plausible justification is China," the editorial maintained. "Marshaling a united front with allies toward Beijing would have been better, but Mr. Trump is a unilateralist and his household remedy is tariffs. There’s no denying that his border taxes on Chinese goods have prodded Beijing to negotiate, though tariffs have also imposed costs on U.S. consumers and producers, especially in agriculture."
"Mr. Trump needs a strong economy as he seeks re-election, and a good China deal would double as a foreign-policy success," the editorial continued before conceding, "Mr. Xi arguably needs a deal even more than Mr. Trump."
"The Trump Administration kept up its brinksmanship on Monday, as White House trade negotiator Robert Lighthizer said China is 'reneging' on its previous commitments and the new tariffs will hit on Friday," the Journal reported. "We have entered the storm before the calm if both sides can see through past the threats to their mutual trading self-interest."
The Journal then advised Trump to work out a deal -- and more importantly -- stop with the tariffs and the tariff threats.
"As for Mr. Trump, repealing his tariffs in return for major Chinese policy changes is well worth the trade," the editorial suggested. "He’ll have won concessions without giving up anything other than the tariffs he said he imposed only as leverage. The alternative could be ugly. China will suffer from an all-out trade war, but so will the U.S. and the Trump Presidency."
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