Trump stuns Wall Street, foreign capitals with new trade fights

THE TICKER

President Trump grimaces during a meeting with NATO Secretary General, Jens Stoltenberg in London. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

President Trump is sending shock waves from Wall Street to Washington and foreign capitals by dialing up his trade war around the world — after spending the past two months retreating from its various fronts.

Trump said he may wait until after the 2020 election to strike a trade agreement with China, saying there is “no deadline” on the talks. “In some ways I like the idea of waiting until after the election for the China deal,” he said from London, where he is attending a NATO summit. The comments followed his announcement, via Twitter, that he is restoring tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Brazil and Argentina. And his administration separately said it is considering new levies on a range of French goods in retaliation for a new digital tax. 

The consequences could reach well beyond the metals trade between the United States and its erstwhile South American economic allies and higher prices on French wine and makeup. For one, it signals Trump still views new tariffs as an effective lever to advance his trade agenda, a belief packed with peril for the markets broadly, and manufacturers and retailers in particular, among others. 

These are our big takeaways from Trump’s announcements:

1. The escalation of trade hostilities marks a serious U-turn by the administration. 

Trump’s team appeared to be winding down its trade fights in recent weeks, quietly foregoing tariffs on European auto imports, allowing American companies to continue doing business with Chinese telecom giant Huawei, and canceling a tariff hike on Chinese goods planned for October while working toward “phase one” trade deal with Beijing. 

But the confrontations the administration just launched could widen trade showdowns in

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