Columnist Marc Thiessen thinks the truce in the budding trade war with Europe is vindication of President Trump’s hardline negotiating strategy, and that the president really isn’t a protectionist (July 27). This is wishful thinking.

The truce with the EU is a positive as long as it lasts, but as usual the president has inflated the substance of his meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker. We don’t know if the president will be encouraged to think that he can bully and intimidate our trading partners, or despite the vague agreement, continue to promote policies that have hurt more than helped the United States.

In the meantime, the claim by Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue that $12 billion of subsidies to farmers are necessary because of “illegal retaliation” is absurd. What did the geniuses who are managing trade policies in Washington think foreigners would do in the face of higher tariffs on their goods? Of course they retaliated.

Donald Trump has always been a protectionist who is profoundly ignorant about trade economics, accounting and history. His call for zero trade barriers is a terrific idea, but like so much else, it was impulsive Trump. Even if such an agreement were possible, it would do little to reduce our trade deficits, which have always been the president’s prime complaint, even though the deficits are economically meaningless.

There are tough trade issues with China that need resolution, but there are better solutions than policies that alienate allies, are already affecting producers and will eventually harm consumers. Don’t drink Trump’s trade champagne yet.


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