November 1, 2017

Trump Agonistes, Indeed

I'm nothing if not fair...

Even if you're export-happy on trade, you need appreciate Nafta for its benefit to the agricultural sector.

Mexico has said it is eager to modernize Nafta. But with a Mexican presidential election in July 2018 there is no way the government is going to bow to the managed-trade demands of Mr. Trump, whose image inside Mexico is no better than that of James K. Polk, who presided over the Mexican-American War.

Mexico says that in a post-Nafta world it would buy its grain and meat in South America, prompting one wise senator to tell Inside Trade, "We're not in as strong a position as [Trump] thinks we are." As to manufacturing, companies are likely, at least initially, to pay any new U.S. tariff and pass the cost on to American consumers, essentially handing them a tax increase. Not exactly what Mr. Trump promised Middle America.

Trump Agonistes Posted by John Kranz at November 1, 2017 12:46 PM

Can't access the whole article but here are some counterpoints:

Any reduction in exports to Mexico's population of 120 million might easily be offset by higher exports to Brazil's 210 million (86% of whom are urban, with a stable middle class.)

Yes, I hear you saying "why not export to both" but agriculture is just one American industry. A president must balance the harms to all sectors.

It seems that the article (in a pro-globalist publication) attributes their description of Trump's strategy to "senators who attended" a private luncheon with the president. Might be a little bit of the "telephone game" going on there.

The idea that NAFTA is someone's idea of perfection is what rankles most of its detractors. Maybe we CAN do better? Maybe someone besides William Jefferson Clinton, twenty five years ago, could make the "free trade" playing field tilt away from the USA a little less?

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2017 3:21 PM

May our wall be as good as Rupert's, eh? Keep Mexicans and mechanical engineers out.

The heart of the story is that the President believes in the negotiating tactic of walking away to get concessions from negotiating partners.

Let me excerpt a real quote from a real Red-State Senator:

The "walk-away" strategy worries Sen. Pat Roberts of Kansas, who told Inside Trade "that if you start the clock on NAFTA [withdrawal] that's going to send very bad signals throughout the entire farm economy." America's farmers and ranchers exported $17.9 billion to Mexico in 2016.

Mr. Roberts added: "And then to restitch that and put it all back together it's like Humpty Dumpty. You push Mr. Humpty Dumpty trade off the wall and it's very hard to put him back together."

Is it sacrosanct, no. But President Clinton was superb on Trade. Art Laffer likes to brag that he voted "for Clinton twice." You're discarding a working deal from a pro-trade President in favor of promises from a famously inward-looking one. That's spooky even after Halloween.

Posted by: jk at November 1, 2017 4:00 PM

Very well then - BOO TRUMP ON AG EXPORTS TO MEXICO!

There's a list "mucho mas larga" however for "Yaay Trump."

But I still put the boo in all caps!

Posted by: johngalt at November 1, 2017 6:00 PM

Clearly, my work here is done.

Posted by: jk at November 2, 2017 11:04 AM | What do you think? [4]