Business In Society
Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

Business in Society Blog

Trump on trade : ZTE, China Vey Bad … Wait , ZTE not so bad, needs help. Let’s try

That’s  the internationaal  trade news from Trump today. Emphasis on today.

Before unpacking the almost daily zig-zag of Trump trade policy, some context from the June issue of Reason (“Free Minds and Free Markets”) magazine:

In her succinct, eviscerating commentary, “Tariffs are Self-Imposed Sanctions”   Managing Editor Katherine Mangu-Ward pulls no punches:

“We restrict trade to punish our enemies. Why would we do the same to ourselves? …
“Slowing or eliminating the flow of cheap foreign materials, manufacturing equipment and finished goods makes it harder and more expensive for a country’s domestic industries to function … President Trump and his anti-trade allies in the administration and on Capitol Hill are using the very same weapon they have brandishing at Iran and Cuba to shoot ourselves in the foot when it come to China.”
So why would Trump do (another) about-face — this time on ZTE, the major Chinese telecommunications company the US punished last month for, among other things, breaking American sanctions against counties including Iran and North Korea?

“In About-Face on Trade, Trump Vows to Protect ZTE Jobs in China”   

American reactions range from wonderment to outrage to thissuspicion of Trump personal gain (think emoluments):

 Huffington Post:

“Trump Orders Help For Chinese Phone-Maker After China Approves Money For Trump Project”  –

“A mere 72 hours after the Chinese government agreed to put a half-billion dollars into an Indonesian project that will personally enrich Donald Trump, the president ordered a bailout for a Chinese-government-owned cellphone maker [under U.S sanctions].”

Giving the president every benefit of every doubt, “Oh, the optics!”


Of course, this is just the latest contortion in Trump trade policy.

Earlier recent analysis, on the broad issues of that policy:

Senator Ben Sasse (R-Neb): “Were on the verge of a painful and stupid trade war and that’s bad.”

The Economist : Donald Trump alienates farmers”  (subhead:  A pig’s ear of a policy’)     – “‘Everyone in pork production is more anxious than they have been for 20 years’ says Jimmy Tosh, a pig famer from north-western Tennessee … trade is the farmers’ biggest worry.”

New York Times: Tariffs spur pleas for relief and snarl production at U.S. companies”  – “In the two months since the Trump Administration’s steel and aluminum tariffs went into effect, the Commerce Department has been deluged with more than 8,200 exemption requests from companies that import foreign metals.”

Only six months until November.