McCon­nell urges trade war peace

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSS AMERICAS -

Se­nate leader warns trade tit-for-tats could throw wa­ter on ‘hot’ econ­omy

WASH­ING­TON — Se­nate Repub­li­can Leader Mitch McCon­nell on Wed­nes­day prod­ded US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s ad­min­is­tra­tion to quickly re­solve fes­ter­ing trade dis­putes, par­tic­u­larly with China, say­ing tar­iffs im­posed by other coun­tries in re­sponse to Trump’s trade poli­cies are start­ing to pinch the “red hot” US econ­omy.

While con­cur­ring with Trump’s view that US pol­icy on global trade must be stronger, McCon­nell also voiced con­cern in an in­ter­view with Reuters about the im­pact of grow­ing trade ten­sions, in­clud­ing on his home state of Ken­tucky.

Trump has taken a hard line on trade since be­com­ing pres­i­dent last year, com­plain­ing

that the United States is treated un­fairly. He has aban­doned some in­ter­na­tional trade deals while threat­en­ing to with­draw from oth­ers and from the World Trade Or­ga­ni­za­tion. The pres­i­dent has re­peat­edly slapped tar­iffs on close al­lies and ma­jor trade part­ners, which have re­tal­i­ated with du­ties of their own.

“The tar­iffs are begin­ning to have some im­pact in a neg­a­tive way, so I hope that we make some progress quickly on some of these other fronts, in par­tic­u­lar with China,” McCon­nell told the round­table dis­cus­sion with Reuters jour­nal­ists, though he said of the over­all US econ­omy: “I think it’s red hot.”

McCon­nell, Trump’s fel­low Repub­li­can, said he hopes the ad­min­is­tra­tion will avoid im­pos­ing tar­iffs of up to 25 per­cent on im­ported cars and SUVs, an is­sue that he noted has raised alarm among au­tomak­ers, in­clud­ing Toy­ota Mo­tor Corp, which builds its Camry model in Ken­tucky.

“I hope that we end up in a bet­ter place sooner and don’t have to go down that path” of ad­di­tional tar­iffs on au­tos, McCon­nell said.

Trump’s poli­cies have de­vi­ated from Repub­li­can or­tho­doxy that had em­braced in­ter­na­tional free trade agree­ments. McCon­nell had pre­vi­ously warned about the pos­si­ble eco­nomic im­pacts of re­tal­ia­tory tar­iffs im­posed on the United States.

The United States has im­posed tar­iffs on im­ported steel and alu­minum. In Septem­ber, Trump slapped 10 per­cent tar­iffs on another $200 bil­lion worth of Chi­nese im­ports. The Euro­pean Union has im­posed tar­iffs on Ken­tucky-made bour­bon, among other prod­ucts, while China has im­posed tar­iffs on soy­beans and other US goods.

The US Trade Rep­re­sen­ta­tive’s Of­fice on Tues­day for­mally no­ti­fied Congress of plans to open trade talks early next year with the Euro­pean Union, Ja­pan and Bri­tain.

“If the end re­sult of this is bet­ter trad­ing re­la­tion­ships with all of these coun­tries, par­tic­u­larly if it hap­pens sooner rather than later, I think it would be great,” McCon­nell said.

While some law­mak­ers have urged leg­is­la­tion to curb pres­i­den­tial author­ity on levy­ing tar­iffs, McCon­nell said it is “highly un­likely” Trump or any pres­i­dent would sign a mea­sure giv­ing up such author­ity. Congress in past years gave “pretty much all the ball con­trol on trade” to the White House, McCon­nell added.

McCon­nell said that if Trump can reach a bet­ter deal on trade with Bei­jing than the sta­tus quo, “that would be a big step for­ward.” McCon­nell said he hopes “we can end up sooner rather than later with a bet­ter re­la­tion­ship with China on the com­mer­cial side”.

Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell

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