People who are hoping for, or contemplating, or expecting a U.S. trade deal with China at the upcoming G20 (or anytime soon thereafter) are really not paying attention. They are caught-up in how the NAFTA-USMCA process went, and they are caught up in President Trump’s own language and bravado about his negotiating skills.
The U.S.-China situation is different than any other deal or circumstance.
Donald Trump didn’t become president just so that he could tweak some trade deals, pass some tax cuts, and then head home. Trump- like any other man- perhaps more than many other men- wants to effect change. He wants to have a real and valuable impact on history- like any president does. In Trump’s case, it’s a valuable impact on American history that he desires, more so than on world history (though the former, necessarily, causes the latter).
President Trump will not be content to just return to his apartment on Fifth Avenue in a few years and go back to yelling at CNN through his television screen as he drinks champagne cocktails and imagines the kind of country in which he wished he lived. This is his chance to make America the way he wants it. No man- and certainly not Donald Trump- would squander that opportunity.
The Trump-Bannon doctrine in relation to China is that it’s east vs. west, and us vs. them. This is a battle over who will control the world in the 21st century.
So, what does President Trump want?
President Trump wants a strong economy. But, more than that, he wants a great legacy. He wants to be the man who made America great (again). Going long of Donald Trump’s ego is a trade on which one will never lose money.
President Trump wants power and influence over North Korea and that valuable real estate (for America, not for himself), he wants to limit China’s economic and political colonization of countries in Asia and Africa, he wants fair and honest environmental, labor, and Intellectual Property laws and practices in China, and he wants a China that plays by the same rules as the rest of us. Trump wants China’s mercantilism, with it’s negative effect on U.S. labor, and China’s use of it to grow into a world power at our expense, to end; and he wants U.S. companies and investors to have the same access to China’s markets and assets as Chinese companies and investors have had in the United States.
The Trump administration is looking more and more like the Reagan administration, with many of the same Republican players, a creation of the media at the helm, low taxes, big deficits, a cold war environment with some occasional military chest-thumping, a peace through strength attitude, and a determination to defeat communism and totalitarianism and restore America to its glory as the world’s leader, in all respects. President Trump, with regard to China, is mirroring and attempting to emulate President Reagan in how he successfully pushed the Soviet Union to the brink by forcing it to spend itself into submission, while growing the U.S. economy as large as possible. Reagan wasn’t looking to sell the Soviets more products- he was looking to remove the Soviet Union as a threat to U.S. values, and security, and power. Why would you think that President Trump wants anything less?
There will be no trade deal (though the new tariffs scheduled to take effect in the new year could be temporarily delayed, pending a resolution). Steve Bannon and Jack Ma probably have it right when they suggest that we are at the beginning of a generational conflict without clearly delineated battle or finish lines, or time frames. As tensions rise between the U.S. and China in the South China Sea, over Taiwan, over North Korea, and in the global economy, the trade dispute is but a mere symptom of (and, perhaps, a mere red herring for) a growing U.S.-China power struggle for world dominance- and President Trump isn’t going to settle for anything less than a total win (or, at least, the establishment of a clear path for future victory)- which will require China to change its economic and legal structures, its behaviors, beliefs, strategies, and even its ambitions and time frames.
President Trump’s message to President Xi:
Mr. Xi: Tear-down-this-Chinese-wall!
- China’s most recent PMI report was in-line with expectations. It was, actually, very likely, much lower than forecast, but revised higher by the Chinese government. China is, no doubt, loath to arrive at this G20 and negotiations with President Trump appearing to be in any more of a desperate condition than has already been made known.
- China will never cave to one demand of the United States, in particular: That China not provide subsidies to its state-owned enterprises. This practice goes to the essence and to the very core of China’s modus operandi.
- Any “framework” or agreement to talk further that comes out of the G20 meeting between the U.S. and China would not be helpful to markets, as such a vague result will not allow companies to properly plan-out their manufacturing businesses or allow non-manufacturers to have complete visibility into their future operations costs. Markets and businesses need some level of certainty, and a mere “framework” for further talks will not provide that.
- Update: As I expected, no trade agreement was reached at the G20 meeting between Presidents Trump and Jinping. President Trump’s decision to delay implementation of the new tariffs, with very little quid pro quo from China for his forbearance, is an indication that Trump is very concerned about the potential economic impacts of tariffs as the U.S. economy is slowing. Whether President Trump will see-through his plan for new tariffs remains to be seen- in about 90 days. Regardless, no trade deal with China will ever be made containing anything less than all, or most, of the Trump administration’s demands- a deal that China is highly unlikely to do. Whether the new tariffs are levied or not when it becomes clear that no trade agreement is possible, the relationship between the two nations will deteriorate from there. There are many other legal measures beyond the levying of tariffs that the U.S. can take to interfere with and challenge China’s global activities, and there are many other ways for the U.S. and China to clash in and around the world.
Neil S. Siskind, Esq., President
The Siskind Law Firm
Neil Siskind is the Founder & Chairman of The Fatherhood Assignment
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The Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve is over 7 acres of environmentally-pristine waterfront land in a magnificent setting along New York’s majestic Hudson River. The Preserve includes a variety of species of animal and plant life, and is a precious example of the thoughtful maintenance of New York’s priceless open spaces. The land’s uses are limited to outdoor recreation such as hiking and climbing, and the study of ecology, nature and land use. The Neil S. Siskind Nature Preserve allows for the intelligent contemplation of our valuable natural resources and the most effective ways to maximize them and keep them protected.
Neil Siskind, Founder, “National Fatherhood Day” – March 29th
To encourage recognition of the needs of boys and girls who are living without fathers or father-figures in their lives.
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Neil Siskind’s Volunteer Work:
– Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Volunteer
– Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, My Fundraiser- Help Neil Siskindhelp children with cancer to be more comfortable: http://mskcc.convio.net/site/TR?px=3182108&fr_id=2632&pg=personal
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– DonorsChoose.org- Donate to one of my needy public classrooms: http://www.donorschoose.org/NeilSiskindGiving
– Champion Children– We seek to inspire people through stories of children who have overcome challenges: http://siskindlawfirm.com/neil-siskind-champion-children/
Neil Siskind’s Pro Bono Work:
– Saving Senior Citizens- Protecting New York’s senior citizens from fraud and financial abuse www.savingseniorcitizens.com
– Senior FreeStart Business– Pro Bono: We seek to help put senior citizens in the right direction so that they can face the challenges of the modern economy: http://siskindlawfirm.com/free-start-business/
– Veteran FreeStart Business– Pro Bono: We seek to help put Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans in the right direction so that they can face the challenges of the modern economy: http://siskindlawfirm.com/free-start-business/
– In development: The Neil S. Siskind School of Hope: A free school to teach inner-city youths the skills of entrepreneurship and importance of economic self-sufficiency.
Neil Siskind’s Government Work:
– Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Boston, MA, 1994, Intern
– Office of Senator Christopher J. Dodd, Newington, CT, 1992, Intern
– Hartford County Department of Probation, Hartford, CT, 1991, Intern
Neil Siskind’s Community Assistance:
Financed & operated a legal clinic providing low-cost legal services to struggling Long Islanders during the recession to help clients resolve debt, organize finances, and launch new businesses.
Neil Siskind’s Professional Curriculum Vitae: http://neilsiskind.com/
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