President Donald Trump’s tough trade talk could be causing other countries to take fewer protectionist actions against the U.S., according to a new report on global trade.
America’s trading partners have imposed fewer tariffs, duties and limits on U.S. imports since Trump’s election, probably fearing retaliation from the Trump administration, according to the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research’s Global Trade Alert report.
The report comes a week before Trump and other G20 nations meet for a conference in Hamburg, Germany. The authors of the report argue that since the G20 has failed to curb protectionist trade practices among its member states, Trump has plenty of ammunition to attack multilateral trade deals and promote U.S. protectionism.
“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,” Simon Evenett, professor of economics at St. Gallen University in Switzerland and one of the authors of the report, told CNN Money.
“Why should [they] do that unless they feared being singled out for retaliation? These heavy users of protectionism may be signaling that they have gotten the message from the Trump Administration in Washington,” Evenett added.
The G20’s efforts to promote free trade and prevent countries from taking protectionist stances simply haven’t worked. “President Trump is to trade relations what Uber is to licensed taxis: a disruptive, brash force against which rules and conventional practices pale,” the report says.
The decrease in anti-free trade protectionism by G20 countries has benefitted the entire group, not just the U.S. The countries that usually engage in protectionism have responded to “Trump’s shock and awe on trade by resorting to less protectionism outright and, in particular, to much fewer measures that harm US commercial interests.”
The danger, according to the report, is that the U.S. will advance its own protectionist policies and damage the global trading economy, and that the G20’s “beggar-thy-neighbor acts will be used as a pretext for all manner of protectionist American initiatives.”
“The United States made some of the worst Trade Deals in world history. Why should we continue these deals with countries that do not help us?,” Trump tweeted Wednesday before departing to Europe to meet with the G20 leaders.
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