The Trump administration portrays its confrontational stance as a means of forcing multinational companies to bring factory production back to American shores. Mr. Trump has described trade wars as “easy to win” while vowing to rebalance the United States’ trade deficits with major economies like China and Germany.
Mr. Trump’s offensive may yet prove to be a negotiating tactic that threatens economic pain to force deals, rather than a move to a full-blown trade war. Americans appear to be better insulated than most from the consequences of trade hostilities. As a large economy in relatively strong shape, the United States can find domestic buyers for its goods and services when export opportunities shrink.
.. Before most trade measures fully take effect, businesses are already grappling with the consequences — threats to their supplies, uncertainty over the terms of trade and gnawing fear about what comes next... Christine Lagarde, warned this past week about trade conflicts. “It would be serious, not only if the United States took action, but especially if other countries were to retaliate, notably those who would be most affected, such as Canada, Europe and Germany.”.. The Trump administration’s decision to reinstate sanctions on Iran has lifted oil prices, adding pressure to importers worldwide... Europe’s economy is weakening, with Germany — the continent’s largest economy — especially vulnerable... Across Europe, steel makers fret about an indirect consequence of Mr. Trump’s tariffs — cheap Chinese steel previously destined for the United States, now redirected to their continent... Mr. Trump portrays trade hostilities as a necessary corrective to the United States’ trade deficits with other nations. But economists and business leaders note that many imports are components that are used to manufacture goods at American factories... Electrolux, the Swedish manufacturer of household appliances, recently postponed plans to upgrade a stove factory in Tennessee, citing uncertainties created by the tariffs... Under Nafta, Mexico has grown into the world’s largest importer of American apples. But sales are down because the price has gone up by nearly one-fifth in the past week alone... Chinese pork producers have turned their sights to Brazil and Argentina, the only countries that now produce enough soybeans to offer a potential alternative to the American supply.