President Donald Trump has repeatedly talked tough on U.S. trade with other nations since first launching his campaign for the White House more than two years ago. Now it appears he is winning over more of the public. A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds that about 50 percent of Americans support U.S. tariffs on "goods from other countries that pay very low wages to their workers. That is up from 47 percent who supported protective tariffs in a similar poll in 2015. The poll also found that a plurality, 44 percent, believe the federal government is not doing enough to protect U.S. companies from foreign competition.
One of the President's biggest arguments has been on reducing the trade deficit between the U.S. and other nations. Ed Hirs, economist at the University of Houston, says the President has a point. "We bring in a lot of goods from China, Korea and Japan, and historically these countries have not been welcoming of U.S. products," he tells KTRH. Recently, President Trump enacted a 30 percent tariff on imported solar panels, a move aimed directly at China. Hirs points out that the U.S. already levies tariffs on many other products. "We have a standing 25 percent tariff on all light-duty pickup trucks brought to the U.S...we have an import duty on Roquefort cheese from France," he says.
The other big area of focus for President Trump when it comes to trade is the multinational trade agreements the U.S. has gotten involved in, like NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement), TPP (Trans Pacific Partnership) and the Paris Climate Accord. Trump has already withdrawn the U.S. from both the TPP and Paris Climate Accord, and has pledged to renegotiate NAFTA. Hirs believes the President has the right idea, but should tread cautiously. "It may be time to revisit some of these trading pacts and obtain better terms for the United States," he says. "But any change in NAFTA that limits Mexican imports to the United States and/or limits U.S. exports to Mexico will lead to disruption...we will have unemployment and potentially a recession across Texas."