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There's Gold in Them Thar Hills

Irony and sadness today. As 11 Pacific nations sign an ambitious trade agreement that will raise worker and environmental standards while lowering tariffs, President Trump will be signing an order to apply 25% and 10% tariffs on most imported steel and aluminium, respectively. Canada and Mexico are reported to be exempt from the tariffs, but could be hit if they don't make more consessions to the US in current NAFTA renegotiations.

US leadership in promoting global trade as a way to preserve global peace through mutual economic benefit since WW II seems to have come to an end.

William Mauldin and Paul Kiernan, reporting for The Wall Street Journal [firewall]::

Japan, Canada, Mexico and eight other Pacific nations are set to sign a new version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, or TPP, on Thursday. The Trump administration, which is expected to announce as soon as today unilateral tariffs on global imports of steel and aluminum, pulled the U.S. out of the original TPP a year ago, fulfilling a promise in a 2016 election campaign dominated by skepticism about the benefits of global trade.

The goal of the pact is to open borders to more trade in the rapidly growing Asia-Pacific region and to set international standards, which many see as crucial to managing the encroaching dominance of China, the second-biggest economy in the region.

Officials involved said the pact shows some countries are eager to liberalize trade at a time when the Trump administration and some other governments are wary of economic integration. “It sends a message to the world that Mexico remains a country committed to free trade,” said Mexico’s Deputy Economy Minister Juan Carlos Baker.

American free-trade advocates were chagrined at the split-screen image expected later in the day Thursday: of U.S. allies signing a new trade pact while U.S. president unveiled new tariffs.

“While the TPP countries have today signed an agreement tearing down trade barriers, President Trump and his trade team are hard at work raising them,” said Daniel Price, a senior White House economic aide in the George W. Bush administration. “The U.S. is increasingly isolated,” he added. “Is this what winning looks like?”

 

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