Crossing the line of absurdity: Trump’s G20 tariff threat to China sinks US diplomacy to new low
US President Donald Trump’s threat of more tariffs if Chinese President Xi Jinping doesn’t show up to the G20 summit is a “new low” for US diplomacy, crossing the line and threatening to unravel global trade, analysts tell RT.
China will agree to a trade deal with the US “because they have to,” Trump said on Monday, adding that new tariffs on Chinese goods will go into effect immediately if Xi does not attend the G20 summit in Osaka, Japan later this month. Washington and Beijing have been negotiating a new trade deal for months, without results.
“This is a new low in American diplomacy,” Sourabh Gupta, senior policy specialist at the Institute for China America Studies, told RT. “That an American president would advance and impose tariffs on a counterpart country if that country’s president did not consent to a sit-down bilateral meeting on the sidelines of a multilateral summit is absurd, to the point of being almost comical.”
China may take its time to respond, but will most likely accept the meeting, Gupta told RT, predicting that the next three weeks will witness “nervous times” in economic diplomacy between Beijing and Washington.
Meanwhile, advocates of free trade are horrified by Trump’s use of tariffs as a preferred method of international engagement.
“Trump promised all of this during his presidential campaign, but no one took him seriously. Now he is showing how much damage one man can do provided he has power and some very bad misunderstandings concerning how economics works,” Jeffrey A. Tucker of the American Institute for Economic Research told RT. Trade between nations is a win-win situation for everyone, while Trump treats it as a game of winners and losers, he said.
Tariffs are a tool of impoverishment for everyone
“A nation is not a single business with a balance sheet. The whole thing is ridiculous.But no one can seem to get to him to explain this,” he told RT. Trump’s goal to turn US trade deficits into surpluses is “absolutely inconsistent with the dollar’s status as the world reserve currency,” Tucker added. Moreover, Americans end up paying for the tariffs, not the nations getting targeted.
According to Gupta, the ultimatum suggests that Trump is not very confident in winning a drawn-out trade war with China, and might be trying to arrange a face-saving way to make a deal with Xi before the 2020 election.
“At the end of the day, China has significantly more to gain than lose from resolving the trade conflict,” Gupta said. “Being a country that is laser focused on its interests and not its grievances – unlike the US – I am confident that Beijing will sit down across the table from Mr. Trump and his team and make a good faith effort to resolve the tensions.”
Whether that good faith effort will be sufficient remains to be seen.
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