Need to Know: Back in Washington, Trump Inches Towards Trade War, Considers Meeting With Putin
Fresh off a controversial meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump is already pushing more trade tariffs on China and considering a summit with Russian president Vladimir Putin.
Published on June 15, 2018

Photo via Gage Skidmore

Donald Trump returned home to Washington after a whirlwind trip abroad this week and picked up right where he left off, delving deeper into a potential trade war with China and considering a rendezvous with controversial Russian president Vladimir Putin.

According to Bloomberg, President Trump announced $50 billion in new tariffs on Chinese imports Friday morning, continuing the same bullish trade policy that left last weekend’s G7 meeting in tatters. $34 billion of those tariffs, focused on high technology items with use in aerospace, robotics, and automobiles, will go into effect on July 6th. The remaining $16 million in taxes is set to be imposed after they are reviewed and approved by U.S. trade authorities.

Without hesitation, Chinese officials in Beijing announced that they would be countering the new U.S. tariffs with their own trade fees of “equal scale [and] equal intensity.”

In line with expert reactions to recent fees added onto metal imports from Canada, Mexico, and the European Union, Trump’s latest Chinese tariffs quickly drew ire from trade officials and economic experts around the globe.

“Imposing tariffs places the cost of China’s unfair trade practices squarely on the shoulders of American consumers, manufacturers, farmers, and ranchers. This is not the right approach,” Thomas Donohue, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said in a statement.

Outside of the potential impact on American inflation and business investments, Chinese officials decried Trump’s latest trade flex for its timing, particularly as it pertains to North Korean denuclearization — a global political focus that has seen China and the U.S. cooperate amicably. That could all change if Trump follows through with his proposed tariffs.

“It’s foolish on the part of the Trump team,” Wang Huiyao, director of the Beijing-based Center for China and Globalization and an adviser to China’s cabinet, told Bloomberg. “He needs China’s collaboration on North Korea and he gives the impression that he’s burning the bridge after crossing the river.”

Piling on even more questions about Trump’s penchant for pleasantries and photo shoots with controversial world leaders, White House sources told Russian media that the Trump administration is currently considering brokering a meeting between the U.S. president and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

Despite the ongoing investigation into Russia’s potential interference in the 2016 U.S. election and the laundry list of human rights violations alleged against Putin, officials in the Trump administration are not ready to rule out another controversial international summit.

“I think that both sides are exploring an opportunity to meet, yes,” said Richard Hooker, special assistant to the President and senior director for Europe and Russia in the US National Security Council, to Russia's state-owned news outlet TASS. “I don’t think any decisions have been made, or details have been worked out, but I believe both sides are exploring an opportunity to try to do that.”

It’s not exactly clear what Trump would stand to gain by meeting with Putin, but a lack of knowledge or end goal has never stopped Trump before, with his latest international actions proving that is unlikely to change anytime soon.

Zach Harris
Zach Harris is a writer based in Philadelphia whose work has appeared on Noisey, First We Feast, and Jenkem Magazine. You can find him on Twitter @10000youtubes complaining about NBA referees.
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