What awful thing had Prime Minister Justin Trudeau done that justified not only the American president's ire but his bizarre choice to walk away from the usually ho-hum Group of 7 joint communique? Had Mr. Trudeau sabotaged the North Korea summit? Had he personally attacked Mr. Trump? Had he breached diplomatic decorum? None of the above. He had simply announced after the summit that he was still going to pursue promised retaliatory measures against President Trump's decision to raise tariffs against Canadian steel and aluminum. In other words, he pledged the kind of my-country-first behavior that President Trump has been promising for the last two years (and continued to merrily tweet about while in Singapore).
How large do you think the U.S. trade deficit is with Canada? A billion dollars? One hundred billion? More? Here's the reality: The U.S. runs a trade surplus with Canada. That's right, the U.S. sells billions of dollars more goods and services to our neighbor to the north each year than we buy from them. The only way to describe the U.S. trade relationship with Canada as running a deficit would be to ignore services (like finance, engineering or higher education), which would be foolish given the increasing role they play in the economy.
And perhaps the greatest fiction of all is that past presidents weren't motivated by an "America First" attitude toward trade and that previous administrations were just being generous to other countries. What a bunch of hooey. The difference is not that Mr. Trump is the first president who wanted U.S. businesses to succeed, it's that he's the first in modern history to not recognize how greater prosperity, and the political stability that comes with it, makes the world a better place for all.
Editorial on 06/14/2018
Print Headline: The truth about trade