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The persisting US trade deficit Is protectionism the right answer?

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  • Riccardo Fiorentini

    (Department of Economics (University of Verona))

Abstract

On January 22, 2018, the Trump administration imposed Safeguard Tariffs on $8.5 billion of imports of solar panel and $1.8 billion for washing machines. This move marked the beginning of what is now considered a trade war the USA is fighting against China and other traditional American trade partners such as EU and NAFTA members states. The “official” motivation for Trump’s trade war is that the persisting US trade deficit depends on “unfair competition” by trade partners. Tariffs are therefore seen as a political tool for levelling the field of international trade. In this paper we present and discuss two main objections to this view: the first is that current and trade account disequilibria are ultimately due to differences between domestic savings and investments driven by macroeconomic fundamentals which in general do not depend only on the trade policies of foreign countries. The second objection consists in the fact that the role of the US dollar as the “world’s money” in the current asymmetric international monetary system makes the US trade deficit both inevitable and sustainable in the long run. Unless protectionist measures permanently affect the domestic savings-investment balance they alone cannot eliminate a structural trade deficit.

Suggested Citation

  • Riccardo Fiorentini, 2019. "The persisting US trade deficit Is protectionism the right answer?," Working Papers 03/2019, University of Verona, Department of Economics.
  • Handle: RePEc:ver:wpaper:03/2019
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    More about this item

    Keywords

    Trade; tariffs; trade war; Trump; China;
    All these keywords.

    JEL classification:

    • F13 - International Economics - - Trade - - - Trade Policy; International Trade Organizations
    • F33 - International Economics - - International Finance - - - International Monetary Arrangements and Institutions
    • F41 - International Economics - - Macroeconomic Aspects of International Trade and Finance - - - Open Economy Macroeconomics

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