Here’s the conclusion of Brett Arends’s polemic against the media coverage of Trump’s tariffs on Chinese goods at MarketWatch:
Right now we export less to China than we do to Japan, South Korea and Singapore put together. That’s the point. So the effect of China’s new tariffs on the U.S. are yet another rounding error. Even if China banned all imports from the U.S., that would amount to only 0.6% of our gross domestic product. And we’d sell the stuff somewhere else.
Don’t buy the hysteria. President Trump is simply trying to pressure our biggest competitor to buy more American goods. That should be a good thing, even if you don’t like him.
I don’t think that’s quite right. $30 billion is unlikely to persuade China to do anything. What it’s just barely possible that the tariffs might do is to change the habits of American consumers and businesses. American businesses will seek sources other than Chinese ones for their products and some of those sources might just be American ones. Either one of those is a benign outcome. All other things being equal we should prefer buying from other than Chinese sources if for no other reason than that the Chinese authorities are not good people. They are building out China’ military for other than benign reasons, are imprisoning millions of their own people for political reasons, and generally imposing Orwellian conditions on China. Do we really want to subsidize that?