In December 2017, to much fanfare, Sen. Steve Daines announced a $200 million deal to export Montana beef to China.
Earlier this month, Trump hinted at adding tariffs to a slew of Chinese goods, raising the specter of a trade war.
He tweeted, “Trade wars are good and easy to win.” It’s hard to find economists, except for a few Trump advisors, who agree with this notion. From the conservative Financial Times:
The bottom line: a global trade war, though still unlikely, would administer a negative shock to world GDP of perhaps 1-3 percentage points in the next few years. Although investors might see this as a manageable hit to growth, there is a downside to the distribution that could turn out to be much worse.
Economists are taught early on that trade wars are always damaging. Memories of the Smoot-Hawley Act in 1930 loom large.
And how would a trade war with China affect Montana? China is our second largest trading partner after Canada. In 2016, we exported $314 million in goods and services to China. Over a third of that was agricultural goods.
All the hoopla over Daines’ beef deal could go for naught if a trade war breaks out between the U.S. and China, not to mention the other sectors of the Montana economy it would damage.
It won’t be easy since Daines is mortally afraid of the public and the press, but someone needs to ask him if he’s supporting Trump’s tough tariff talk or if he has the back of Montana’s ranchers and farmers.