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Trump Is a Trade Ignoramus

Here’s a letter to the Washington Post:


After further raising the punitive taxes that he inflicts on Americans who buy imports, Pres. Trump tweeted this message to foreigners: “Build your products in the United States and there are NO TARIFFS!” (“Trump doubles tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports, escalating U.S.-China trade war,” May 10.)

I urge you to make clear to your readers that Trump’s trade policies are a tangle of inconsistencies and unfathomable economic ignorance.

Trump is forever lamenting U.S. trade deficits. Yet by calling for foreign firms to shift more production to the U.S. he is calling for foreign firms to increase their investments in the U.S. This increased foreign investment will put upward pressure on U.S. trade deficits.

Trump’s obvious cluelessness regarding the connection between foreign investments and trade deficits is reason enough to utterly dismiss his many apologists who insist that his tariffs are part of a brilliant bargaining scheme to ultimately make trade freer. It’s clear that on matters of trade Trump is simply, to use George Will’s apt descriptor, a bloviating ignoramus.

Donald J. Boudreaux
Professor of Economics
Martha and Nelson Getchell Chair for the Study of Free Market Capitalism at the Mercatus Center
George Mason University
Fairfax, VA 22030


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