Back to blog

Donald Trump imposes levies on metal imports

See blog

Readers' comments

The Economist welcomes your views. Please stay on topic and be respectful of other readers. Review our comments policy.

ashbird

Reply to jouris @Mar 11th, 12:11
.
[jouris, the Reply button doesn't work.]
.
Re your thought in the post, please take a look at: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Timeline_of_international_trade
.
“Free trade” as an activity between nation states, according to the chronicle of history, began before the rise of nation states and before the term “free trade”, as a concept in economic theory, got to be established by the time of David Hume (cf. your reference to letter to Montesquieu,1749).
.
Historians divided the periods of trade into Ancient (as early as C19, BCE), Middle Ages, Early Modern, Later Modern, and Post WWII.
.
[Link at the top provides a rough time line and items of merchandise that were traded as a matter of economic imperative between participants (no one spot in the world makes everything it needs)].
.
Of course, as soon as a label (such as “free trade”) attaches and get introduced into a discussion, all manners of tribalists, extremists, reactionaries will get hysterical in their myriad attempts to attribute meanings to the term; and in so doing, mangle what is real. It is said this is done in the name of the Love of country, or of God, or of Party, etc., etc. There is nothing you can do when discussions (by this time, economic and political theories have merged into one fused paradigm of thought) proceed on different realities as the mind chooses to see. The ever-unchanging reality is what is is, and what is not is not. I see the recognition that that which is real has a mind of its own as reassuring. The rest is noise.

jouris

this mercantilist logic has been known to be bunkum for centuries. David Hume dispensed with it in a letter to Montesquieu in 1749.
.
It appears that those who accuse Mr Trump of still living in the 1950s are oversimplifying. On this, he (and Mr Ross) are living in the early 1700s.

jvictor1789

A statistical reality well worth being aware of; World Bank figures for 2016, average trade weighted tariffs(all imports weighted by share of total:i.e., no cherry picking numbers, please) by country:
.
The very well-off nations:
Singapore: 0 % tariff
Hong Kong: 0%
Iceland: 0.7
Norway: 1.0
Canada: 0.8
.
.
The slightly less well-off and somewhat protectionist:
USA: 1.6 %
.
The somewhat less well-off:
UK: 1.6 %
EU: 1.6%
.
Such statistical convergence should be cause for reflection by some people.
.
.
The trying to be well-off some day:
Turkey: 2.7
China: 3.5
Russia: 3.4
Mexico:4.0
.
The ones trying to catch up some day with the trying to be well-off group:
India: 6.3
Ecuador:6
Colombia:7
Brazil:8
Cuba:8
.
The ones who don't care about catching up:
Bangladesh: 10.5
Belize: 10.5
Pakistan: 10
Kenya: 11
Togo: 10
.
Finally, the ones who are unaware of what catching up means:
Chad: 16
Gabon:17
.......
The relationship between GDP per capita, average GDP growth and low tariffs is more than a statistical coincidence, to be sure.
.
Trump knows, he is just very gently rocking the boat-let's remember that the fiscal stimulus and government deficit spending plans in infrastructure and defense will by virtue of economic identities force an increase of the trade deficit-unless national production goes up fast. And it makes for great election year pictures in the Rust Belt.
.
The system is far sturdier than the hysterical press would lead us to believe.
.
https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/TM.TAX.MRCH.WM.AR.ZS
.
https://economics.yale.edu/sites/default/files/files/Workshops-Seminars/...
.
.
.
Greetings to FADFFLLFAF

guest-aaawwwmj

Governments, captured by producer interests, do not often acknowledge this fact, though all know it to be true.
.
And producer interests, captured by governments - as in China - do not acknowledge the fact to their customers that they are getting subsidies.
.
There's Free Trade, and then there's Fair Trade.
There is a difference.
.
.
China is shutting down steel mills
.
In its heyday, Baoding had eight steel mills, all contributing to China's status as the world's biggest producer. However, as part of the government's efforts to clean up the environment around Beijing and reduce steel capacity, Baoding's mills were shut down.
.
Capacity is still a problem
.
Despite Beijing shutting down mills in Baoding, the steel company that owned the last remaining one in the town, Ao Yu Steel, had organized a deal to transfer capacity to a firm in Fujian province in southern China.
.
That sort of practice is one of the reasons so many of China's trading partners including the United States are frustrated with the Chinese and argue that Beijing should do more.
.
http://www.cnbc.com/2018/03/08/what-i-learned-in-chinas-steel-free-town....
.
NSFTL
Regards