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Obama Makes Wrong Choice on Trade

September 12, 2009

I read in today’s Washington Post and Wall Street Journal that President Obama has decided to approve the United Steelworkers’ petition and impose punative tariffs on Chinese-made tires, a move I argued against just days ago.

Although news of this decision is being drowned out by the flurry of commentary and speculation regarding health care reform, I believe it will prove a fateful moment in this Administration.  This was the President’s first clear-cut decision on trade, and it sends a chilling message to all of our partners around the world.  His decision might make some people feel good, but that feeling will come at a real cost in American jobs and competitiveness. 

It may also lead to a destructive cycle of retaliation and counter-retaliation with China, which could do real damage to the world economy if it gets out of hand.  It will be interesting to watch where the Chinese choose to hit back, as they have promised to do.  At the very least, President Obama’s decision will cast a serious cloud over his planned visit to Beijing in November.

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