By Stu Cvrk & Larry Schweikart
Part one of a four-part series
The View from 2016
Let’s go back just a few years ago to the world as President Donald Trump had remade it. He had canceled or pulled out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership “treaty” (which was not a treaty because the Senate had never ratified it); ended America’s participation in the Paris Climate Agreement; renegotiated a new NAFTA along lines far more favorable to the United States, and entered into negotiations with the Chinese aimed at forcing them into a fairer trading arrangement. The latter became at least a two-phase process, and under Phase I, despite critics who claimed the agreement wasn’t effective, the Chinese promised to buy “an additional $12.5 billion in US agricultural products in year one, and then $19.5 billion in year two. Those commitments come atop roughly $24 billion in farm purchases that China made in 2017.”
That was on top of an even broader pending agreement for manufactured goods and energy exports by 2021. While actual purchases remained well below the agreed levels, the trend lines were up, with U.S. exports increasing to within $4 billion of Chinese imports, almost reaching parity, according to PIEE’s “U.S.-China Phase One Tracker: China’s Purchases of US Goods.”
Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and US President Donald Trump sign a trade agreement between the US and China in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, January 15, 2020. (AFP) Critics gleefully pointed out that the numbers lagged the Trump administration’s targets—but they were moving in the right direction. Moreover, on September 22, 2019, the “Howdy, Modi” summit attracted 50,000 people and marked a strong shift of Indian-Americans to Trump.