Trump’s Trade Wars: A New World Order?

By November 8, 2019

Mideast Security and Policy Studies Paper #166

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: President Donald Trump’s declared economic protectionism has taken the US’s international relations with several foes and allies into uncharted territory. His open-ended trade wars with several nations have triggered criticism among conservatives and liberals alike in the US. He has justified his actions by arguing for a downturn of America’s trade deficit, but the American people don’t seem to be on board with his logic. A recent Harvard CAPS/Harris Poll survey shows 63% of registered voters believe tariffs imposed on Chinese products ultimately hurt the US more than China, while 74% said American consumers are shouldering most of the burden of those tariffs.

The political network funded in part by billionaire libertarian Charles Koch has contested Trump’s approach toward China and is trying to shape an alternative strategy for 2020, the year of the US presidential election. One Koch senior official has acknowledged, “It doesn’t penetrate with the people that are willing to go along with the argument
that you have to punish China.” There is now a pursuit of a “two steps back strategy,” which will involve putting together a team of almost 100 business leaders to call on the Trump administration and lawmakers to end the trade war with China.

This paper examines the ramifications of President Trump’s policy of economic sanctions and tariffs vis-à-vis several nations and international groupings. It also looks at China’s counter-strategy and considers whether Middle Eastern countries like Saudi Arabia will be caught in the web of the current trade wars.

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Dr. James M. Dorsey
Dr. James M. Dorsey

(Ph.D. University of Utrecht). Specializes in the Muslim world's political, social, and economic fault lines as well as Chinese policy towards the region with a focus on geopolitics, social movements, and political and militant Islam. James also focuses on the nexus of sports, politics, and society. Email: [email protected]