December 7, 2019

Trump Winning the Trade War Would Make China Stronger, Not Weaker

trump chinaWe don’t win anymore,” said candidate Donald Trump numerous times during his 2016 presidential campaign, referring to America’s trade relationship with other countries. Trump and tens of millions of his supporters hold the protectionist view that trade, like all human relationships, is a war that must be “won.” Rather than exchanges that leave both parties better off, protectionists see trade as a zero-sum game in which one side benefits at the other’s expense.

Fair Trade Over Free Trade

The president has said on more than one occasion that he supports free trade, but he insists it must be fair, meaning that China or other partners reciprocate any relief from tariffs and other burdens placed on their exports. And it is true that China has not treated American exports to China the way America has treated Chinese exports to America.

China has been more protectionist and is likely engaging in some subsidization and/or other government assistance to its exporters, even if it and its effect on America’s trade deficit with China are greatly exaggerated. Americans would be better off with zero tariffs and completely free trade regarding its imports.

Regardless, Trump and his supporters draw completely the wrong conclusion. Persuading Xi Jinping to adopt free trade policies would make China’s economy stronger, not weaker.

Read the rest at Foundation for Economic Education…

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.

China becoming the largest economy would be great for Americans

trump-xi-wall-street-1069240Here’s another little piece of evidence that whatever made the American psyche one inclined towards freedom is long dead: the irrational fear China may surpass the United States as the world’s largest economy.

So what?

China’s population is five times larger than the U.S. population. It should be the largest economy in the world. If both countries had laissez faire free market systems, China would have the largest economy in the world and that would be great for the Chinese, for Americans, and for the rest of the world. It would mean an enormous increase in the world supply of goods and services, making the average inhabitant of this planet richer, just as the industrial revolution made richer the inhabitants of the countries in which it occurred.

Anxiety about China’s economy being larger than ours is born out of statist, collectivist thinking, in which the individual is subordinate to the glory of the state collective. In a word, it’s dronethink.

The only reason the U.S. economy has ever been larger than China’s is because it was relatively freer than China’s – by orders of magnitude during China’s communist era. The reason that gap is closing is because China, while still by no means a laissez faire free market, is becoming relatively freer, while the US is becoming relatively less free.

The only way for China to become the largest economy is by continuing to make its markets and, eventually, its entire society freer. Whether it will do so or not remains to be seen. The freedom momentum there has slowed somewhat recently, although the momentum here is in entirely the other direction.

Anyone who wants to live in a freer, richer, and safer world should hope both Americans and Chinese have the good sense to clean house in their respective governments and establish a laissez faire system in both countries, resulting in both becoming far more productive. Yes, China’s economy would then  become the largest economy in the world and that would be just fine.

Tom Mullen is the author of Where Do Conservatives and Liberals Come From? And What Ever Happened to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness? Part One and A Return to Common Sense: Reawakening Liberty in the Inhabitants of America.