President Trump’s go-it-alone tariff battle with China, Canada and Europe threatens to reverse his own administration’s single-largest claim to success — the continuing upswing of the U.S. economy. Not only are those countries responding to his tariffs with tariffs of their own, their leaders are suggesting their citizens think twice before buying American.
And that economic shadow threatens to hover directly over Oregon, which counts China as its top export market and Canada as its third-largest. Oregon exported $5.8 billion in goods and services to China in 2016, according to Oregon Business Magazine, making it far and away the top target for Oregon products and services sent out of the country. Canada took in $2.1 billion in the same year.
Countries and their citizens don’t like being threatened and bullied, two of the president’s specialties. So the tariffs may be only part of the toll exacted on U.S. manufacturers and the public. There are widespread reports of Canadians boycotting American goods and canceling planned vacations to their southern neighbor, not only because of the tariffs but also in the aftermath of Trump’s personal attacks on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
The trade wars may or may not create more manufacturing jobs in the U.S., which we may or may not be able to handle. While that remains uncertain, there is no doubt that the United States has again been diminished in the eyes of the world and, in the near term at least, in its standing in the global economy.