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Trudeau Gets U.S. to Back Down on Metal Tariffs; Trump Declares Car War on Germany and Japan

On the good side, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has successfully negotiated a deal to end the reckless and destructive tariffs on steel and aluminum imposed last year by the mercurial United States:

Discussing the breakthrough Friday afternoon, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said, “There was no one breakthrough moment” in negotiations.

At the Stelco steel plant in Hamilton, Ontario, Trudeau told reporters that he had “lots of conversations with the [U.S.] president over the past week, and an understanding as well that these tariffs were harming workers and consumers on both sides of the border.”

And with both countries’ leaders now hoping to get the USMCA ratified, Trudeau said, “it didn’t make a lot of sense to continue to have tariffs on steel and aluminum between our countries” [Bill Chappell, “U.S. Will Lift Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum from Canada and Mexico,” NPR, 2019.05.17].

On the bad side, Donald Trump has declared that Toyota and Volkswagen are threats to national security:

…In a proclamation released Friday, Trump agreed with a Commerce Department study that found some imported cars and trucks are “weakening our internal economy” and threaten to harm national security, but it stopped short of naming specific vehicles or parts.

Automakers warned the tariffs cost hundreds of thousands of auto jobs, dramatically raise prices on vehicles and threaten industry spending on self-driving cars.

A group representing major German and Asian automakers including Daimler AG, Toyota Motor Corp, Volkswagen AG, Honda Motor Co and Nissan Motor Co, called the suggestion some auto imports are a national security risk “absurd” [David Shepardson, “Trump Declares Some Auto Imports Pose National Security Threat,” Reuters, 2019.05.17].

If foreign cars and parts are a threat to national security, we should already be conquered, since there is no purely American car. There also appears to be no imminent economic harm to the presence of all those foreign cars and parts… which Trump himself seemed to tacitly acknowledge as he winged his way through another vacuous public statement on trade:

At an event in the U.S., Trump re-stated his desire to have Congress approve USMCA quickly.

“And then great farmers and manufacturers and steel plants will make our economy, even more successful than it already is, if that’s possible, which it is possible,” Trump said [Rachel Aiello, “‘A Good Day’: Canada Reaches Deal with U.S. to Drop Steel, Aluminum Tariffs,” CTV News, 2019.05.17].

While Trump continues to try to buy off the American farmers he’s destroying with tariffs, Canada, Japan, and the European Union will continue to attempt to hold the global economy together with intelligent and intelligible cooperative policies….


  1. mike from iowa 2019-05-17 16:41

    Butt, Drumpf is asking American farmers to take a big hit for patriotism and making the wealthy wealthier, while he muddles around in negotiations of which he knows nothing.

    Take one for the team now and you will be better off in the future. By better off, he means you won’t be farming anymore so no more worries.

  2. T. Camp 2019-05-17 17:50

    This is clearly a triangulation move to complete deals with Canada and Mexico at the expense of China. This is a win/win for all three trading partners. The Chinese economy currently is under pressure while our economy is supercharged. The Chinese see they have lost a valuable slice of the business pie to Canada and Mexico. The Chinese need the US more than we need them, they export more to us and the field is very uneven.
    Our friend, neighbor and former candidate Walter Mondale said years later that he wished he would have had more of a business understand. This would have allowed him to make better decisions.
    We might not like TRump and none of us voted for him. Some question his negotiation tactics and strategy but if we put emotion aside and think clearly we are allowed to better understand Mondale’s lament.

  3. Scott Pearson 2019-05-17 20:20

    and the farmers will continue to vote for trump, thune, rounds, and dusty while blaming illegal immigrants for their problems.

  4. jerry 2019-05-18 02:48

    I knew it all along, Tennessee, where Volkswagen’s are made, is still a national security threat. Let the bombing begin.

  5. jerry 2019-05-18 03:31

    Robert Mueller’s team is still there. Here is the latest filing on the collusion and treason of the trump administration with Russia.

    It looks like we know the national security risk to the United States, it is called the republican party with trump at its head.

  6. jerry 2019-05-18 03:35

    Porter, can you imagine what our economy would look like with these numbers from China? At least two and one half times better! From your link, Astounding numbers.

    “The IMF expects China’s growth to moderate from 6.9 per cent in 2017 to 6.6 per cent in 2018 and 6.2 per cent in 2019, reflecting slowing external demand growth and necessary financial regulatory tightening.
    Over the medium term, Chinese growth is expected to gradually slow to 5.6 per cent as the economy continues to make the transition to a more sustainable growth path with continued financial de-risking and environmental controls.”

  7. mike from iowa 2019-05-18 07:45

    The only growth in the US that merits mentioning is the rate the deficits have shot up and the amount the trade deficit with China has exploded since Drumpf, the world’s greatest negotiator got involved.

    GDP growth has been a pedestrian 2 something %, which is what it was once Obama and Dems cleaned up wingnut recession last time. Drumpf said we could have 6% growth easy.

  8. jerry 2019-05-18 12:51

    China looks to partner with Brazil and Peru for a transcontinental railway. These Chinese believe in infrastructure, that is for sure. Ag products shipped from Brazil with tie in’s along the way, could make a huge financial difference to the countries of South America.

    “Peruvian President Martin Vizcarra said on Friday that China could partner with Bolivia and Peru on a massive intercontinental railway project that Lima once dismissed as too costly when pitched by Beijing more than two years ago.
    In an interview on the presidential plane, Vizcarra said China might still be a natural fit as a partner to help finance and build the project, because it would likely buy the goods the railway would deliver to a port on Peru’s southern Pacific coast.”

    Why can’t we have ideas that will help our commerce? The United States seems to eager to blow stuff up rather than to build stuff up. We used to build transcontinental railways and the spurs to make business hum. Now we listen to a con man blame our lack of ideas and drive on Muslims as we cannot blame the Canadians or Mexicans anymore.

  9. jerry 2019-05-18 12:53

    Sorry, that is Bolivia not Brazil.

  10. Debbo 2019-05-18 16:05

    From the paywalled Strib today, the headline and subhead make clear what’s happening:

    “As trade dispute escalates, Minnesota farmers brace for another miserable year

    “We’re losing money hand over fist right now,” said one, as low prices cloud usual spring optimism.

    In the body of the article:

    “Late spring planting, as is happening this year in Minnesota, tends to weaken the fall harvest and lift prices on crops.
    But not when there’s a trade war.
    Farmers now face the prospect of both a smaller crop and lower prices — particularly for soybeans — thanks to the latest round of tit-for-tat tariff fighting between the United States and China.”

    Corn and beans farmer Jamie Beyer says, “How do we let our government cause these huge swings in trade that impact our bottom line with no thought to what we could be doing for American farmers? This has certainly been a possibility in their mind. Why haven’t they planned for it?”

    Bill Gordon, a farmer near Worthington heading out to plant his corn on Thursday, said support for Trump among farmers is running thin but he wouldn’t go so far as to say farmers are turning their backs on the president.

    “The hurt’s becoming too real. Before, you could manage the risk, you could take a loss, you could support the decision,” Gordon said. “Now people are losing their farms, they’re not able to put crops in the ground. The crops they’re putting in the ground, they’re going to guarantee themselves a loss. That patience for, ‘Hey, we’ll get this done,’ is starting to run out.”

  11. Debbo 2019-05-18 16:06

    Jerry, this is LOL hilarious and sad at the same time:

    “I knew it all along, Tennessee, where Volkswagen’s are made, is still a national security threat. Let the bombing begin.”

  12. Debbo 2019-05-18 22:23

    It’s not only farmers, as we know.

    “We got hammered in round one, and we’re about to get hammered again,” said [Michael] Minsberg, president of Creative Lighting in St. Paul.

    “Minsberg has spent the past year working with vendors and some of his biggest customers to share the cost of what he calls round one of tariffs on Chinese imports. This time, with the tariff rising from 10% to 25%, customers will feel it.

    “We’re going to have to pass everything on because the numbers are so shockingly big,” said Minsberg, whose grandparents started the company 93 years ago. “We can’t absorb it. Nobody can.”

    “Minnesotans face price hikes across a wide spectrum of typical purchases, such as clothing, furniture, electronics and medical devices, within a month or two without a truce in President Donald Trump’s trade war with China.”

    From the Strib.

  13. Debbo 2019-05-18 23:06

    Farmers are getting hit by the GOP’s nonexistent human caused global warming in another way too:

    “Many of the locks and dams on the Mississippi that closed due to flooding that started in March have reopened, but the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers doesn’t expect the river to be fully unimpeded until possibly June.

    “Even if the locks were open, ‘many of these barges wouldn’t be able to get here anyway,’ said Sam Heilig, a Corps spokeswoman at Rock Island, Illinois. ‘Because the water’s so high, there’s not enough clearance to get under some of the bridges.’ ”

    It’s hell being a farmer or average American in the trump/GOP USA.

  14. Debbo 2019-05-19 13:40

    Dr. Robert Kudrle sits in an endowed chair in International Trade and Investment Policy at the U of Minn. In short, he has more knowledge in one brain cell than Bloviating Bigot has in his entire head.

    Dr. Kudrle is interviewed in a paywalled Strib article, explaining how tariffs *really* work and what effect they’re *really* having on the USA. I’ll try to highlight some of the important bits for you:

    “The buyers of products are the ones who actually pay a tariff, though there could also be effects on prices that would shift some of the cost back onto the sellers.”

    “Many medical devices include an important amount of Chinese content. Such U.S. businesses become less competitive exporters.” (Minnesota is home to several medical device companies.)

    ” If a business goes to an alternative source of products or parts, it is still likely to be a non-American source. It will probably be countries where products were slightly more expensive than China before the tariffs, places like Taiwan, Malaysia, Vietnam or Mexico.”

    “Tariffs are not going to build the American economy. They do the opposite.”

    “It is estimated that with the recently announced tariff increases, the [annual] cost could go up to $800 for a family of four.”

    “These tariffs are very regressive.”

  15. Debbo 2019-05-19 13:48

    Deere & Co stock dropped 7.7% because farmers aren’t buying due to Economic Eunuch’s tariffs. That’s what the little Strib paragraph said, minus the words “Economic Eunuch.” I’ll take credit for that. 😄

    Apple and Caterpillar also both dropped, same reason per the “Market Recap.”

  16. Debbo 2019-05-19 14:30

    Thomas L. Friedman is an economist and NY Times columnist. He also has an aunt and uncle living in Willmar, Minnesota. He visited them in Willmar to write a column on diversity that the Strib reprinted from the NY Times. Of course it’s paywalled, so I’ll hit a few highlights.
    Willmar has a Jennie-O turkey plant and dire need of workers.

    “ ‘flyover America,’ where everyone voted for Donald Trump, is suffering from addictions and is waiting for the 1950s to return.

    “That’s not what I’ve found. America is actually a checkerboard of towns and cities — some rising from the bottom up and others collapsing from the top down, ravaged by opioids, high unemployment among less-educated white males and a soaring suicide rate.”

    “The answers to three questions in particular make all the difference: 1) Is your town hungry for workers to fill open jobs? 2) Can your town embrace the new immigrants ready to do those jobs, immigrants who may come not just from Latin America, but also from nonwhite and non-Christian nations of Africa or Asia? And 3) Does your town have a critical mass of ‘leaders without authority’?

    “These are business leaders, educators, philanthropists and social entrepreneurs ready to lead their community toward inclusion and problem-solving — even if formal leaders won’t. These leaders without authority check their party politics at the door and focus only on what works. They also network together into what I call ‘complex adaptive coalitions’ to spearhead both economic and societal change.”

    “Have no doubt, the battle for inclusion is a daily struggle in Willmar and across Minnesota — and in some towns the battle is still being lost. But if you are looking for a reason to be hopeful, it’s the fact that in places like Willmar, a lot of people want to get caught trying.”

    “In the public early childhood program, the mayor said, 45% of students are of East African descent, 35% Latino and 16% Caucasian (although a lot of whites send their kids to private schools).”

    There you have it. It’s not easy, but when there are determined people working at bringing the town, any town, into the 21st century, it can happen.

  17. Porter Lansing 2019-05-19 14:37

    If (as noted above and is accurately portrayed) USA has an opioid problem why does SD believe it’s problem is meth? Hasn’t the opioid problem appeared yet or is the opioid problem being ignored because it involves Doctors, which are in such short supply?

  18. Debbo 2019-05-19 14:43
    If the Strib paywall stops you from seeing Steve Sack’s brilliant cartoon on Economic Eunuch’s tariffs maybe Cory will post it for you. It’s so good!

  19. Debbo 2019-05-20 20:34

    Yes, Strib paywalled article here. It’s another about Economic Eunuch’s flailing and failing trade wars.

    The authors are looking at farm lobbyists and conclude that those lobbyists only serve Big Ag. They want farm programs changed so that they’re truly effective for the average farmer, not just massive CAFOs and gigantic, corporate farms.

    “Today, the chief question in the minds of most policymakers is not whether these programs have long outlived any usefulness; rather, the concern is with how government-dispensed privileges can be tailored to ensure the continuing support of agricultural interests at the ballot box.”

    There are 2 authors and you’ll recognize one name. The family was located in western Beadle County, around Wessington, I believe. I’m not certain Tad is related to them, but he may be.

    “Matthew Mitchell is a senior research fellow and director of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University’s Equity Initiative. Tad DeHaven is a Mercatus Center research analyst and former United States Senate policy adviser. They wrote this article for Tribune News Service.”

  20. grudznick 2019-05-20 20:54

    Ms. Geelsdottir, please do not encourage Mr. H to commit copyright infringement. That’s unholy of you, ma’am.

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