President Donald Trump said on Friday that he plans to permanently end the United States' reliance on Chinese goods if he is reelected for a second term in the White House. Trump made the comments at the 2020 Council for National Policy meeting in Washington. Moreover, the comments come just a day after Joe Biden said at his Democratic Convention acceptance speech that if he is elected the president he would ensure that US supply chains no longer rely on China.
The trade war with China has been one of the central themes of Trump's presidential tenure and anti-China policies continue to be his strongest weapon in the arsenal during this year's campaign. The coronavirus outbreak has further soured relationship between Washington and Beijing, with the United States alleging China of failing in controlling the virus spread. Hence, both Trump and Biden have been playing on the anti-China sentiments and have often sparred on the campaign trail over who would have a firmer policy towards Beijing.
Trump Does it Again
Trump's ire toward China has only grown over the years. He has often accused Beijing of unfair trade practices and stealing technological knowledge from US companies operating in that country. "We'll fully restore America's manufacturing independence, bring home our critical supply chains and permanently end our reliance on China," he said on Friday.
Trump has often stressed that the United States should be less dependent on China, which over the years have attracted major American conglomerates to shift their production hub in that country. He has also time and again threatened several American companies with operations in China of robbing the United States of millions of jobs and asked them to shift production to their homeland in a bid to end dependence on China.
In fact, he also offered tax relief to companies for shifting operations from China to the United States. Trump's move cannot be completely slammed given that he compelled China to enter into a phase one trade deal in January this year. Needless to say, he once again wants to use this to win public support ahead of this year's election.
Is Trump Making the Right Move?
The tariff war with China has been a major issue during Trump's tenure. He has also been slammed for his anti-China policies but it seems Biden too is treading the same path now. The reasons are obvious. The anti-China sentiment among Americans has been working in favor of both the Democrats and Republicans and both Trump and Biden are now making similar pledges of ending reliance on China if they win the election.
China has been in Trump's bad books since the beginning of 2018 following an investigation by his administration that accused China of unfair trade practices and theft of intellectual property from US companies operating in that country. Since then, Trump has slapped tariffs on billion of China-made goods. Understandably, this was in a bid to sever ties with Beijing and end reliance on Chinese good.
Trump's moves not only worsened the relationship between the two countries but also started to take a toll on the profits of both American and Chinese companies, as Beijing in retaliation started slapping counter tariffs. However, the United States and China finally signed a trade agreement in January after months of negotiations. Under the agreement, Beijing committed to expanding between this year and next to its purchase of certain US goods and services by a combined $200 billion from 2017 levels.
But growing tensions seem to have been once again impacting trade between the two countries. According to Washington-based Peterson Institute for International Economics, China, till June, had only purchased around $40 billion of the $173 billion of US purchases committed for 2020, as relationship got further strained after the Covid-19 outbreak.
However, soon after that the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the relationship between the two countries further soured, with Trump and White House accusing China of failure in handling the crisis at the early stages of the outbreak. And this time, it seems more Americans have started believing Trump given the toll the pandemic has been taking on global economy.