Do you think US President Donald Trump's tariff strategy will ultimately be good for the United States?
US President Donald Trump has enacted or threatened tariffs on billions of dollars of goods from Canada, Mexico, the EU and China. These countries are retaliating or threating to retaliate on US imports. Critics of the tariffs feel they will escalate into a dangerous trade war that could undermine decades of benefits from global trade and hurt every country involved. Proponents feel that the US has been treated unfairly (due to other countries' subsidies, tariffs, currency manipulation and/or intellectual property theft) and they feel these tariffs will force other countries to act more equitably.
This was a passionate debate with many strong arguments for and against the US Tariff strategies.
Proponents for the Tariffs stressed that the current playing field is not even and that other countries aren't playing fairly; therefor, they feel the tariffs are warranted and that they will likely result in better deals for the US with countries like Mexico, China and the EU. Many people also noted the recently renegotiated trade agreement between the US and Mexico as a signal that US threats of tariffs can help the US negotiate better agreements with China and other countries. Proponents also felt that the US has historically been too soft on International trade enforcement and therefore these tariffs are necessary to "fix" what has been broken for many years. They also stressed that the large trade imbalance with China gives us a strong negotiating position (since China could have more to lose than the US given they export substantially more than we do). Many proponents of the tariff strategies do acknowledge that tariffs could be costly in the short-run, both to the US as a whole (given the payouts to farmers and other affected groups and potential economic slowdowns) and also to individuals and certain companies whose businesses and paychecks are directly affected, but they see these as necessary costs to force a more level and fair playing field for the future.
Opponents of the tariff strategies site several concerns including the risk of an all-out trade war that could escalate into a "nobody wins" scenario. Others site examples of previous failed attempts at tariffs and trade wars and how they resulted in major economic slowdowns in the US. Others also fear that if the US imposes aggressive tariffs on countries like China, then those countries will accelerate efforts to diversify their exports away from the US and therefore the US could lose valuable products and supplies and also lose influence over other countries who become less dependent on exports to the US. Opponents also fear the short-term and the long-term economic impacts of a trade war. In the short term, they believe prices will rise on foreign imports (since they will have to charge more to offset the subsidies) and that this could have longer-term effects on the US economy since historically they have led to economic slowdowns. Some also feared that China has a long-standing cultural tradition of patience and "waiting it out" and that therefore they are unlikely to cave even if there are negative short-term implications.
Then there were some that had mixed emotions. They felt that the current international trade agreements are not fair, that we should renegotiate them and that there is a good chance that threatening tariffs can work to force better agreements; however, they are concerned that the risks are so large and damaging that perhaps it is too risky to use tariffs to try to improve agreements (in case they don’t work and they result in a global trade war or other dangerous international relations).