Tariffs and trade wars are turning 'America first' into 'America alone'

Tariffs and trade wars are turning 'America first' into 'America alone'

While the media hurries to award Trump a diplomatic “win” for agreeing to a meeting that American presidents have been turning down for decades—US-North Korea summit without preconditions—there are some other world leaders who would also like a word. Only Trump would probably not want to hear what they have to say.

Bewilderment, along with anger and frustration, has rippled across the capitals of U.S. allies — countries that figured, no matter the bumps in relations with Washington, they would wind up on the same side against China in any dispute over steel or unfair trade practices. And yet suddenly there is talk of a trade war between the United States and its supposed friends.

Donald Trump’s “America First” policy already had allies around the globe scurrying to reach agreements that excluded the US from trade deals. On Thursday, eleven nations—including Japan, Australia, Canada and Mexico—signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, despite the US dropping out of the the arrangement.

Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum Thursday only a couple hours after 11 nations signed the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a sweeping trade agreement that was once thought to be dead after Trump withdrew the United States from talks.

The TPP does not include China, and was in fact originally created in an effort to provide a “counterweight” to China’s leverage in the Asia-Pacific. With the agreement in place, tariffs are actually falling … for those countries involved. And just because the US didn’t sign, doesn’t mean the agreement won’t have a significant impact on US exports.

While American beef faces 38.5 percent tariffs in Japan, for example, beef from Australia, New Zealand and Canada will not.