Plenty more trade topics to discuss, though.
Prepare yourself, nations of Asia: President Trump is visiting your continent on a big diplomatic trip. He’ll be visiting various capitals, meeting with heads of state, and attending the ASEAN leaders’ summit.
Is he gonna talk about trade?
He really, really ought to. The president, as regular readers of this blog (and everyone else) knows, has made a reset of American trade policy a key feature of his presidency. He has talked very tough regarding the bilateral trading relationship between the United States and China.
And China is gonna be hopping mad. They’re gonna be mad, man! Because the Trump administration has determined that (shocker, obviously) China’s is not a market economy. In a memo released ahead of Trump’s visit to Beijing, where he’ll meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Commerce Department wrote:
China’s institutional structure and the control the Chinese government and the (Chinese Communist Party) exercise through that structure result in fundamental economic distortions, such that non-market conditions prevail in the operation of China’s economy. These non-market conditions are built upon deeply entrenched institutional and governance features of China’s Party-state, and on a legal mandate to “maintain a leading role for the state sector.” Accordingly, China is a non-market economy (NME) country. It does not operate sufficiently on market principles to permit the use of Chinese prices and costs for purposes of the Department’s antidumping analysis.
The memo takes a great deal of time to make the case that China doesn’t meet the six criteria necessary to be considered a market economy.
And the result of this means: Chinese firms involved in trade disputes with the United States still can’t use their own data to make their arguments tougher standards – because the economic data China presents to the outside world is opaque and unreliable. Dang.
The administration made the right call here in reaffirming the American position on China’s NME status. But there’s plenty of other trade stuff the president must raise when he swings through Asia.
He should address global industrial overcapacity, particularly during his meetings with Chinese officials.
He shouldn’t reward trade concessions to countries that encourage the growth of state-owned enterprises.
And this one he can do right here at home: He should finish the Section 232 investigations into steel imports he started. While the Trump administration hems and haws – excusing itself from action by claiming Senate Republicans won’t vote for tax reform over possible steel tariffs – steelworkers are suffering.
Lean on President Trump, right here, by telling him to finish what he started.