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Back to NAFTA, Back to Normal Trade with China….

We’re working toward repairing two big Trump disasters this week. The House Democrats are restoring NAFTA, which Trump needlessly tore up two years ago. Trade with Canada and Mexico will proceed mostly like it did before. “…[T]he new USMCA is really 90 percent NAFTA,” says analysy Christopher Wilson.

And while we’ve heard this song before, the White House is saying we’re about to get a deal with China, in which we postpone Sunday’s planned tariffs and roll back some existing tariffs in return for Chinese promises.

Funny: in Popeye, “Wimpy” was the one getting the hamburger. But in Trumpistan, we’re the ones giving up the beef today for promise of glad payment on Tuesday.

Former Mexican ambassador to China Jorge Guajardo more aptly summarizes our slink back to status quo ante:

“China Phase-1 deal is the equivalent of a gunman, who had taken hostages, surrendering to authorities, with no one killed, but his manifesto never published,” Jorge Guajardo, the former Mexican ambassador to China, tweeted. “No harm done to anyone, back to normalcy, madman contained, but the shopping mall lost a lot a customers during standoff” [Anna Swenson, Alan Rappeport, and Keith Bradsher, “U.S. Settles on Outline of Elusive China Trade Deal,” New York Times, updated 2019.12.13].

Meanwhile, economic growth remains historically mellow (calm? anemic?), mellowing out from the Herculean efforts required to get us out of the recession, with no bursts of strength and no major dips under Trump like those seen in the good old days when America was great:

Trading Economics, U.S. GDP Growth Rate, 1994–2019, retrieved 2019.12.13

Restoring trade to the way it was before Trump’s tantrums is welcome relief. Now if we could just remove Trump and return to more stable politics….


  1. Debbo 2019-12-13 21:58

    Are pork and soybean markets magically going to snap back to where they were? I imagine China is going to honor their deals with Argentina, Brazil and others, since they know the value of being a reliable trade partner. Those were US markets.

  2. jerry 2019-12-13 22:19

    The I.R.S. will have to make a new form to indicate BRIBE INCOME for next year’s taxes. Gonna have to get creative to hide that income from the man.

  3. Debbo 2019-12-13 22:20

    John Tsitrian blisters, I mean BLISTERS! SD’s DC delegation on SD Standard and confounds their querulous claims with facts.

    “In the two days since USMCA was signed prices have fallen at the Chicago Board of Trade, wheat, corn and soybean futures are down by several cents. This morning they’re flat to down a bit. These are not particularly large moves and prices can certainly go higher down the road–but the fact is that USMCA’s passage has done nothing to improve the price outlook for the grain markets. Thune, Rounds and Johnson utterly misunderstood–or knowingly mischaracterized–the negligible financial effect that USMCA’s passage would have on the farm products that make up the base of South Dakota’s agricultural economy.”

  4. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-14 06:25

    As I said, back to the status quo:

    Peter Quinter, chair of the customs and international trade law group at GrayRobinson, a law and lobbying firm based in Florida, said “the Chinese were buying agricultural products from the US for decades, and increasingly so.

    “They stopped because Trump assessed these special tariffs on China, and now they’re going to resume buying some of the agricultural products, so we’re still behind and the farmers are still suffering.

    “Trump’s tendency is to create a situation that becomes intense, he demands something that’s unreasonable and then in the end there’s an agreement going back to the prior situation,” Quinter said [Mark Magnier and Robert Delaney, “Do the Numbers in Donald Trump’s ‘Phase-One’ Trade Deal Work? US Critics Worry They Don’t,” South China Morning Post, 2019.12.13].

    Trump has made us an unreliable trade partner and weakened our negotiating position for years to come.

  5. Cory Allen Heidelberger Post author | 2019-12-14 06:28

    Debbo, I appreciate Mr. Tsitrian’s expertises on NAFTA and trade in general. I don’t hear any other writer in South Dakota speaking with such authority on these matters. Do any of the newspapers or TV stations have reporters who know that much about at markets?

  6. Debbo 2019-12-14 15:34

    Our friend, John Tsitrian, has more to say about Economic Oaf’s trade debacle, and it doesn’t get better for farmers:

    In exchange for dropping his plan to lay on new tariffs tomorrow, 12/15, all Trump got back from the Chinese was a vague promise to buy more agricultural products from the United States. This has the makings of an awful deal because Trump delivered specifics (a drop in tariffs) but got only generalities in return. Not only that, Chinese officials released a statement saying that “China will increase purchases of high quality and competitive products from all countries, including the United States.” In other words, we’re part of the field that China is playing.

    “from all countries, including the United States.” All countries??? Great. Isn’t that just great. 😑 So if China buys a bushel of beans from the USA they’ve kept their side of the bargain! Gawd, Incompetent Ignoramus has no clue how to make a decent trade deal.

    We can bet that China’s new partners are going to work awfully hard to keep their biggest customer. And how will they do that? There’s gonna be a price war with Argentina and Brazil and us. Farmers, your bean prices may get worse, instead of better.

    What a disaster. If this is what Economic Oaf does when he wants farmers’ 2020 vote, what do you think he’s going to do to them if he wins and no longer needs them?

  7. mike from iowa 2019-12-14 16:02

    Incompetence goes right along with being the world’s greatest negotiating stable genius.

  8. Debbo 2019-12-15 01:26

    I’m not sure where to put this, but I think it’s important.

    Lee Schaefer is a Pulitzer Prize winning business writer for the Strib. He’s politically neutral and economically very smart. He’s good at seeing the entire system. What he sees in the USA’s system isn’t good.

    Schaefer consults experts like economist Louis Johnston who says we’re falling behind. He discerns this by noting our decreasing life expectancy. It stopped increasing in 1998 when we fell behind the other OECD nations. In 2014 it began going backwards. It’s not that people are dying in their late 70s rather than mid 80s. People are dying in their 50s of alcoholism related causes, suicide, obesity issues, diabetes, drug overdoses, hypertension. It’s not only in certain southern red states, though those are usually worse, but even in a relatively healthy blue state like Minnesota.

    Harvard Business School has been researching how economies remain healthy. Their conclusion is that driving down wages and benefits to increase profits is not a long term success tool. They’re not optimistic.

    Something that Schaefer didn’t mention in this column, but has in the past, is that Henry Ford was right about building his business by paying his labor more to create buyers for his product. The post WWII boom proved the benefit to the entire economy of a strong middle/ buying class. Minnesota’s esteemed Senator Paul Wellstone succinctly put it like this:
    “We all do better when we all do better.”

    The USA’s 21st century economy is guaranteed to fail, but its going to create a lot more pain before, during and after that failure, unless some much smarter people than the Russian GOP hold the reins. (Elizabeth Warren or any other Democrat.)

  9. jerry 2019-12-15 11:08

    NAFTA is not complete! Neither is the China deal. As we like to say, Don’t count your beaver before you set your trap. Mexico is rightly bucking back, so there is work to be done with the partners to clench the deal. With China, too many opportunities for a select few to clean up on Wall Street with the ups and downs caused by Chubby.

    Chubby is like a lazy parent in a store that tells the kids they are gonna get this and that to shut them the hell up. The kids are dumb enough to listen to the old man, but know deep down that it ain’t gonna happen. Chubby may give them a lollipop, but it ain’t gonna be what they were expecting or wanting.

  10. mike from iowa 2019-12-15 13:28

    China is pledged (allegedly) to buy only 32 billion in farm goods from US in next 2 years. However, experts are fairly confident Phase 2 will never happen and drumpf got taken for a ride…..again.

  11. jerry 2019-12-15 15:34

    Keep in mind that Chubby is not being taken for a ride, it is taxpayers who are taking the ride. We’re gonna have to pay when the crash happens. Chubby and his accomplices are making tons of money on the manipulated stock market. Watch it ebb and flow with almost daily nonsense regarding how good it is and how China is gonna come around soon, very soon… Lucy does not even have to move the football as the only game is fraud.

  12. jerry 2019-12-16 08:16

    American trade deals are thousands of pages in depth because they have been drawn out for a couple of years or more. Chubby’s self inflicted trade war is just 86 pages in total length. Probably written in crayon.

    “AMERICAN TRADE deals typically stretch to thousands of pages. The new “phase one” trade deal between America and China takes up only 86. Robert Lighthizer, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) gave journalists a glimpse of it on December 13th, hours after it had been agreed. And he said that after a few weeks of checks for legal errors and inconsistencies it would be published. He expected that it would then be signed in the first week of the new year.”

    Clearly there are no adults, starting with the babbling fool in the big chair, to right the misdirected trade war Chubby started. When the dust settles, we will be damn lucky to start over.

  13. mike from iowa 2019-12-16 09:37

    You want to check for legal errors? drumpf was not legally elected. How does that grab you, Mr Negotiator?

  14. Steve Pearson 2019-12-16 11:22

    The House Dems are restoring NAFTA?!?!?! You are no better than the media. It’s been awaiting their signatures in the House for over a year. Such BS.

  15. Debbo 2019-12-16 14:33

    I’ve seen only one or two sites that think this trade deal is good. They were righties. Most seem to think it’s about where we were before Economic Oaf destroyed farm markets. Several think it’s inferior to NAFTA, coupled with the loss of Chinese markets making it an economic disaster.

  16. jerry 2019-12-16 15:00

    Mexico objects to wording in the new old NAFTA. Chubby wants to add more crapola into the deal. Mexico says natta.

    “MEXICO CITY — A top Mexican trade negotiator flew to Washington on Sunday for urgent talks as a hitch emerged in the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement, just days after it was signed.

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