The Talking Donkey

In an amazingly pro-Trump editorial, the editors of The New York Times laud the president for putting a freeze on new tariffs to give the U. S. and China three months in which to arrive at an agreement:

Not long after claiming victory in the midterm elections in which his party lost at least 39 House seats, President Trump kept up his winning streak this past weekend, this time on the world stage.

At the Group of 20 summit in Buenos Aires, he called a temporary truce with President Xi Jinping of China in the nearly yearlong trade dispute between the two countries. The United States will continue to impose a 10 percent tariff on up to $250 billion of Chinese goods but will hold fire on threats to boost that duty to 25 percent in January. China, which has countered with $110 billion in tariffs on American goods, will reportedly lower some tariffs on American-made autos and resume buying soybeans and other agricultural commodities that had been priced out of the market by the countervailing duties.

“It’s an incredible deal,” the president claimed, and yet it is not, in fact, even a deal. The two countries have given themselves 90 days to find a framework from which to construct a new trade agreement — something they haven’t been able to do over the past two years. Nor has China given an indication that it will make any big concessions in 2019.

I would remind readers of the story of the caliph, the grand vizier, and the donkey. It’s possible that President Trump will wrest concessions from China. It’s more likely that the Chinese authorities will announce reforms that remarkably never materialize and that President Trump will seize on even the tiniest motion in our direction and declare victory.

8 comments… add one
  • Guarneri Link

    You may be correct. But sometimes this is a pausing technique used to work through negotiating impasses rather than blowing up the whole process. Its not that great a delay in the scheme of things. We will know soon enough.

  • Ben Wolf Link

    There is no agreement. Trump’s senior advisors can’t articulate what he agreed to, John Bolton is out making inflammatory statements about banning Chinese products, and the Chinese have, since Trump reversed himself a day later and threatened more tariffs, told a different story about the meeting.

    We know three things from this: Trump is either totally wreckless or senile, he doesn’t talk to his economic advisors, and John Bolton is acting unilaterally to bring trade under his own control.

    We knoe

  • Trump is either totally wreckless or senile

    There are other explanations. He’s a blowhard and too eager to claim victory.

  • Roy Lofquist Link

    “President Trump will seize on even the tiniest motion in our direction”

    Key phrase: “In our direction”. Sorry guys, the “Magical Negro” didn’t do much of that.

  • Gray Shambler Link

    The President sought and received assurances from the Chinese tyrant that he would place a ban on fentynal production and export, significant because this is a source of revenue for the Communist government. We cannot assume assurances will be followed by action without the threat of increasing tariffs.
    Xi is confident that he has China on the right track toward world domination. Bolton is apparently the only American leader aside from Trump who sees any problem with that.
    Trade is where we have leverage over China’s behavior, short of war, that’s all we have. And since Trump is temporary, re-election or not, and has no domestic support, our concessions from Xi will be minimal, and brief. Xi has lifetime tenure.
    Notice how he never stops smiling?

  • Andy Link

    I’m very skeptical but hopeful.

  • Guarneri Link

    You learn something new everyday. Ben is an insider to the negotiation. Who new?

  • steve Link

    This is a guy who likes to brag about his accomplishments, before they are accomplished and sometimes when they never come to fruition. Who knows what is really going on, but we probably shouldn’t take Trump’s word for whatever is happening. Wait and see.


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