Trump’s Tariffs Aren’t Helping American Workers

The Wall Street Journal reports that Donald Trump’s tariffs are, um:

U.S. manufacturers are shifting production to countries outside of China as trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies stretch into a second year….The biggest beneficiaries of that decline have been other countries in Asia where production costs are low, such as Vietnam, India, Taiwan and Malaysia.

“We’re moving production to other parts of the world,” Marvin Edwards, chief executive of CommScope Holding Co., said in June. The Hickory, N.C., company is making antennas for sale in the U.S. at its plant in India instead of China.

Wait. What about America?

There is little evidence, though, of U.S. manufacturers bringing production from China back to the U.S., a move the Trump administration hoped the tariffs would encourage. While imports from other Asian countries have climbed, U.S. manufacturing output has declined 1.5% through May from a recent peak reached in December, according to the Federal Reserve. The Institute for Supply Management said earlier this month that its manufacturing index slipped again in June to the lowest level since 2016.

US imports in 2019 from China and the other top ten losers total $39.5 billion less than last year. However, imports from the top ten winners total $38.5 billion more:

Anyone who wants to pretend this is great news for American workers is just joining in the Trump con. Tariffs on China might eventually force them to change some of their bad trade behavior—if Trump is smart enough to cut a serious deal—but that’s all. It will do nothing to bring low-value manufacturing back to the United States.

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"It's that we're screwed with or without him if we can't show the public that what we do matters for the long term," writes Mother Jones CEO Monika Bauerlein as she kicks off our drive to raise $350,000 in donations from readers by July 17.

This is a big one for us. So, as we ask you to consider supporting our team's journalism, we thought we'd slow down and check in about where Mother Jones is and where we're going after the chaotic last several years. This comparatively slow moment is also an urgent one for Mother Jones: You can read more in "Slow News Is Good News," and if you're able to, please support our team's hard-hitting journalism and help us reach our big $350,000 goal with a donation today.

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