Donald Trump isn’t like most Republican presidents, but his views on trade have been an unusually firm departure from his party. Despite long championing free trade, the GOP is now led by a man who seems deeply skeptical of it. Last week, he upended trade negotiations with China by levying tariffs on $200 billion in Chinese goods, carrying out a threat he’d issued just before a Chinese delegation visited the White House. On Monday, China retaliated with tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods.
A trade war between the world’s two largest economies seems to be here. And the risks are dire. Financial institutions have warned that “a trade war could cause a global recession,” but as the president infamously tweeted last year, he thinks “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”
On this week’s Radio Atlantic, the staff writer Edward-Isaac Dovere sits down with Colin Grabow, a trade expert from the libertarian Cato Institute, to discuss the two trade battles at hand: one between the United States and China, and the other within the Republican Party.
Why the GOP turned away from free trade and whether it would go back post-Trump
What these new tariffs mean for U.S. consumers
How the little-known Jones Act helps explain American protectionism