Trump’s tariff plan could boomerang, spark trade wars with China, Mexico

3/24/2016 Reuters

shutterstock_142650745Donald Trump’s threats to slap steep tariffs on Chinese and Mexican imports may have won him votes in Republican primaries but they would likely backfire, severely disrupting U.S. manufacturers that increasingly depend on global supply chains.

The Republican presidential front-runner’s campaign pledges to impose 45 percent tariffs on all imports from China and 35 percent on many goods from Mexico would spark financial market turmoil and possibly even a recession, former trade negotiators, trade lawyers, economists and business executives told Reuters.

“I don’t mind trade wars when we’re losing $58 billion a year,” Trump said in a Feb. 25 debate, referring to the 2015 U.S. goods trade deficit with Mexico. Economists dispute the idea the United States is “losing” money as the trade deficit is simply the difference between what the United States imports and what it exports to a country.

“Imposing tariffs or putting up trade barriers may sound good, but it will hurt our economy and credibility,” said Wendy Cutler, the former acting deputy U.S. Trade Representative who helped lead U.S. negotiations in the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal last year.

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