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Trump is not backing down on trade
The New York Post
August 22, 2017

Most shoppers prefer to buy American. But given a choice between an American-made product and a cheaper import from China, Mexico or another low-wage country, they’ll usually go for the bargain. That’s one reason millions of American factory workers have lost their jobs.

In last year’s presidential election, Donald Trump put the collapse of American manufacturing center stage. He pledged to take on China — our biggest trade rival — and to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada.

Just campaign rhetoric? Absolutely not. Last week, President Trump launched an investigation into China’s trade practices. This Wednesday, the administration begins renegotiating NAFTA.

American manufacturing workers are getting the back of Smith’s invisible hand.

President Bill Clinton’s adoption of NAFTA and the massive influx of Chinese goods after China was admitted to the World Trade Organization in 2001 clobbered American workers, causing over 2 million layoffs in less than two decades, according to MIT economist David Autor.

Wall Street investors tremble about a trade war that would hurt S&P 500 companies like Apple and General Motors, which sells more vehicles in China than in the United States. But auto workers, including many Trump voters, are pushing for American-made batteries and more American steel in cars, even though it will push up the sticker price, making Detroit less competitive.

Past politicians haven’t leveled with the public about trade. Clinton promised that letting China into the WTO would “have a profound impact on human rights and political liberty.” Nonsense. China has become more repressive. China is stealing intellectual property, and even worse, plotting to control the supply of semi-conductors, electronic elements needed for weapons and other defense equipment. That puts America in peril.

Trump dared to question the gospel of free trade and changed the national discussion. Over three-quarters of Trump voters, including lifelong Democrats, believed the pacts were hurting America, and they’ve given Trump a mandate to act.

Read the full editorial here.