As the G-20 summit gets underway in Germany, a shocking study out of Britain suggests — are you sitting down? — President Trump’s aggressive statements on trade may actually be working to the benefit of the United States.
Stay with us because you probably won’t see much about this White House success elsewhere. Critics have long suggested that Trump’s bluntness would alienate trade partners or, worse, even ignite trade wars. True, some like Germany are not happy.
But the Center for Economic Policy Research in London has just reported that the other 19 G-20 economies took 52 steps against United States commercial entities in the first six months of this year.
And that, the Center reports, is — wait for it — down 29% from the first six months of last year when someone, let’s say, more aloof and less outspoken was president of the United States. These actions against U.S. interests include quotas, duties and tariffs on imports from the U.S., measures against dumping and tax incentives for exporters that could adversely U.S. companies.
In public remarks and even tweets, Trump has ranted about the global trade playing field being tilted against the U.S. “The United States made some of the worst Trade Deals in world history,” he’s said. “Why should we continue these deals with countries that do not help us?”
Simon Evenett, one of the authors of the Global Trade Alert and a professor of economics at Switzerland’s St. Gallen University, puts it this way:
“The G20 countries that had hit U.S. interests more often before President Trump was elected are the very G20 countries that have cut back on protectionism the most in 2017,” said . “Why should [they] do that unless they feared being singled out for retaliation?”
Evenett thinks such countries have gotten the tougher message out of the new Trump administration.
“It is actually possible,” added Andrew Kenningham of Capital Economics, “that rather than prompting a global trade war, Trump’s rhetoric and policies may have little effect or even lead to more free trade.” This especially applies to emerging countries, he suggests, that might think twice about alienating the new American administration by slapping protectionist measures on American goods.
As another result of Trump’s tough talk and possible protectionist measures including possible quotas or tariffs on steel imports. As proof, the trade report found the U.S. under Trump has already imposed 189 measures against interests in other G20 countries, twice the number implemented during similar periods of Obama’s second term.
But the Center found the U.S. has been by far the worst protectionist offender against G20 countries during the last eight years. Since 2008, the Center reports, “the U.S. has pushed though nearly 1,250 protectionist measures. During the same period, China struck 265 times and South Korea 145 times.”