Opinion

Trump’s Trade Deal with China is a Steroid Shot for the U.S. Economy

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Posted: Jan 16, 2020 4:30 PM
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Trump’s Trade Deal with China is a Steroid Shot for the U.S. Economy

Source: AP Photo/Alex Brandon

President Trump has just signed one of the most consequential trade deals in American history — an agreement that promises to benefit the U.S. economy for decades to come.

The "Phase One" trade deal with Beijing is a massive economic and diplomatic victory for the President, who successfully convinced communist China to abandon some of its most egregious trade abuses while at the same time dramatically increasing its purchases of U.S. exports. 

China has committed to purchasing $200 billion worth of American goods over two years, including $75 billion of U.S. manufacturing products alone. In addition, China will buy $50 billion worth of energy products, $40 billion worth of agricultural exports, and $40 billion in services, ensuring that the benefits will be spread across the entire U.S. economy. 

While those commitments are the most eye-catching aspect of the deal, the real meat of the Phase One agreement lies in China’s commitment to end its abusive and illegal trade practices, such as requiring U.S. companies to turn over valuable technology to Chinese competitors in order to do business in China.

“This is a very important and remarkable occasion," President Trump said during the signing ceremony, adding that U.S. and China “are righting the wrongs of the past and delivering a future of economic justice and security for American workers, farmers and families.”

But the trade deal is also important for another reason — it will deprive America’s greatest geopolitical adversary of the artificial advantages that have fueled its economic growth for so long. Beijing never would have willingly given up its unfair trade practices, but a bilateral trade accord with Washington forces China to either honor its commitments or suffer the pain of renewed counter-tariffs.

The strategic counter-tariffs that President Trump imposed at the beginning of the negotiating process derailed China’s rapid economic expansion and sparked widespread panic among the country’s business and governing elites. Beijing had no choice but to make significant concessions in order to ease the pressure, and China’s leaders will not soon forget how easily the U.S. can put them back into the same uncomfortable position if they break their word.

“Things are going along very well with China,” President Trump explained last year, noting that the U.S. was taking in billions of dollars in tariff revenue. At the time, the President also insisted that his strategic counter-tariffs would ultimately force Beijing to accept U.S. terms, including a commitment to end its currency manipulation — a prediction that turned out to be accurate.

Coincidentally, the Phase One deal with China isn’t even the only major trade agreement being finalized this week, with the Senate voting Thursday on approval of the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement — a deal that offers such massive benefits to the U.S. economy that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi kept it in legislative limbo for a whole year to prevent it from boosting President Trump’s re-election chances.

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Of course, Donald Trump isn’t done negotiating with China just yet, either. When the President announced the first phase of the trade deal with Beijing, he also stressed that the White House will be negotiating “Phase Two” of the accord in the near future. The coming rounds of trade talks will likely yield additional guidelines on intellectual property protection, and will almost certainly contain mechanisms to curtail China’s other anti-competitive practices. 

The “Phase One” trade deal with China is a monumental achievement, arguably representing the biggest trade victory in our nation’s history. It’s enough on its own to keep the U.S. economy humming for years, and the outlook will improve even further once the next phase of the negotiations is complete. 

Marc Lotter is Director of Strategic Communications for Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. He previously served as special assistant to the president and press secretary to the vice president.