Why the ‘Do-Nothing’ Phase Might Be Next in Trump’s Trade Wars



Shawn Donnan | Bloomberg

President Donald Trump likes to be seen as a man of action. So everything you read below should be consumed with some skepticism.

But here’s a Monday morning thought as we contemplate the deteriorating relationship between the U.S. and China, the possibility that a small trade peace Beijing and Washington signed up to in January is crumbling and a looming vacancy at the head of the World Trade Organization:

Are we entering the “do-nothing” phase of the Trump trade wars?

Let’s start with China. There is little doubt that China is going to struggle to live up to its purchase commitments this year under the phase one deal that the two sides signed in January. Just look at this new tracker from Chad Bown at the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

Chinese purchases would have to accelerate significantly to hit the deal’s targets for 2020. Which isn’t surprising given that the Chinese economy is still slowly emerging from a coronavirus-induced shutdown earlier this year.

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