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Trump’s Trade War, Part II

Trump’s Trade War, Part II

by D.J. McGuire

The Trump Administration’s efforts to “renegotiate” the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) have now created so many hackles that the Chamber of Commerce stepped in.

That Trump is willing to risk a trade war to feed his lust for protectionism is not news (he’s already set off Canada and the United Kingdom), but when the Chamber of Commerce sounds the alarm about a Republican president, we’re in big trouble.

The Chamber’s concerns are listed in Politico.

Many businesses, large and small, are concerned about the effects that many of the Trump administration proposals or planned proposals would have on trade. Those at issue would reduce Canada and Mexico’s access to the U.S. government procurement market, create a new domestic content provision for autos and tighten regional content requirements, and automatically terminate the agreement after five years unless all three countries agree to renew the pact — known as a sunset clause.

“We see these proposals as highly dangerous, and even one of them would be sufficient to move the business and agriculture community to oppose an agreement that included them,” (Chamber Senior VP John) Murphy said.

The veteran business official said the administration’s proposals for revamping the dispute settlement provisions of the pact have also caused concern, as has another proposal to create a new anti-dumping mechanism for seasonal and perishable products.

U.S. Wheat Associates also expressed alarm over the NAFTA renegotiation.
The Administration, of course, is paying no attention. Stuck in 18th Century mercantilist theories – dressed up as 20th Century labor concerns – Trump et al are more worried about inefficient manufacturers’ complaints than the dramatic shift in energy supply from the Middle East to North America that came in no small part from NAFTA.
What’s more maddening to this recently turned Democrat is the lack of response from my own party on this issue. I understand the instinct to simply follow organized labor’s lead on anything economic, but freer trade means more, higher-paying jobs in goods and services where we have a competitive advantage. Freer trade also means lower prices for Americans looking to make ends meet. Freer trade means those lower prices can lead to more savings – which can be invested in new industries, technologies, and firms in America.
Protectionism is the siren song that either led us directly to the Great Depression or greatly exacerbated it (via the Smoot-Hawley tariffs). America should not make that mistake again, and if the president is determined to do so, the opposition should at least try to stop him.

D.J. McGuire is the conservative Democrat on More Perfect Union podcast – and sometimes feels like he is the lone conservative Democrat in the country.

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