"America First" means imposing punitive tariffs on China, Germany, and other U-S trading partners. President Trump has turned the rules of international free trade upside down. How is this affecting trade? Who are the winners and losers?
President Trump claims that German tariffs on imports of American cars are unfair, and has threatened to increase US tariffs on imported German cars to as much as 25 percent. Trump claims he is simply trying to protect domestic automakers. Sönke Winterhager, managing director of a German steel company, says the president's "America First" trade policy doesn't make sense. Winterhager's BGH factories produce about 200,000 tons of stainless steel a year. Ten percent is exported to the US. But in spring 2018, a 25 percent import tariff was slapped on those imports. A number of American manufacturing companies need that steel, so they pay the extra tax. German economist Jens Südekum says that President Trump's trade policies are a radical repudiation of traditional free trade. But at the same time, Südekum notes that "free trade" has never been truly "free." International trade has always included some measure of protectionism. The US, like Europe, is simply acting in its own best interests. For example, the west African country of Ghana used tariffs for years to protect its domestic market against cheap European imports. But then the EU told Ghana to drop those tariffs, if it wanted to continue to sell its cocoa products in Europe.