President Donald Trump has once again demonstrated his mastery in negotiating the best trade deals for America, this time at the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. After a tenuous two hour dinner meeting on Saturday night between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, Trump, aided by his nationalist trade adviser Peter Navarro, emerged with a major agreement between the two world powers that extracts immense concessions out of the Chinese regime.
“It’s an incredible deal,” Trump told reporters on Air Force One on the flight back from Buenos Aires to Washington. “It goes down, certainly, if it happens, it goes down as one of the largest deals ever made.”
The Chinese agreed to buy a “very substantial amount of agricultural, energy, industrial” products from the United States in order to bring down the massive trade deficit between the two nations. In order to do this, China agreed to lower both tariffs and non-tariff barriers that restricted the entry of U.S. goods into the domestic Chinese market.
Furthermore, China told Trump that it would help counter the growing U.S. opioid epidemic by classifying fentanyl, which is often manufactured in China, as a controlled substance.
One further Chinese concession that Trump hinted at was Chinese regulatory approval of U.S. software giant Qualcomm’s acquisition of NXP Semiconductors, a move which had previously been blocked by Beijing’s merger authority.
Despite all these victories for the United States, Trump made relatively few concessions of his own, merely agreeing not to go ahead with a previous threat to raise tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese goods from the current 10% to 25% next year. However, even this was conditional on Chinese compliance with U.S. demands on forced technology transfer, cyber theft and intellectual property theft, all of which have been perpetrated by the Chinese in recent years.
During his 2016 campaign, Trump promised that the trade deals he would negotiate on behalf of the country would be so successful that they would make his supporters “tired of winning”. Having delivered huge trade concessions from Mexico, Canada, the European Union and now China, Trump has shown that a strong but unconventional approach on trade can yield tangible results for ordinary working Americans.