Despite trade wars, Trump says US ‘open for business’

Published: 12:43 AM, 19 Feb, 2020
Despite trade wars, Trump says US ‘open for business’
Caption: US President Donald Trump speaks to the press before boarding Air Force One at Andrews Air Force Base February 18, 2020, in Maryland. Trump is heading to California at the start of a four-day western state campaign swing.–AFP
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President Donald Trump said Tuesday that he wants to avoid policies that make it difficult for other countries to do business with the United States—even as his administration has done precisely the opposite.

Trump has imposed tariffs on billions of dollars in goods and launched disputes with most key US trading partners over the past three years, but in a lengthy Twitter thread, the president said, “We don’t want to make it impossible to do business with us. That will only mean that orders will go to someplace else.”

“The United States cannot, & will not, become such a difficult place to deal with in terms of foreign countries buying our product, including for the always used National Security excuse, that our companies will be forced to leave in order to remain competitive,” he tweeted.

Trump has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum worldwide, calling those imports a national security threat, and threatened to do likewise for cars from Europe.

In the most costly conflict, Trump announced tariffs on virtually 100 percent of good imported from China. A truce signed in January suspended the most damaging of those, but the majority remain in place.

US trading partners have not stood by, retaliating with punitive duties on American goods like bourbon, motorcycles and farm products, which obliged the government to provide millions in aid to farmers.

In the latest conflict—a 15-year-old dispute over European government subsidies to Airbus—Washington hit out with 25 percent tariffs on a host of goods, including Scotch whisky, French and Spanish wines, and English cheeses.

Trump also slapped penalties on French goods in response to a digital tax.

Nonetheless, “I want to make it EASY to do business with the United States, not difficult,” he said. 


In fact, US companies have been forced to shift operations or find new sources for components, or plead for exemptions from the trade policies. 

Likewise, foreign buyers of American goods have gone elsewhere in many cases.

“With each round of cascading tariffs, Trump has bullied more American companies into becoming protectionist,” Chad Bown, trade expert at the Peterson Institute for International Economics, said in a recent paper.

“For many Americans, the higher costs resulting from his tariffs mean they can no longer compete with foreign firms in either the US or global market.”


Agence France-Presse is an international news agency.