Trump’s Asia Trip: No Trade Deals, More Broken Promises on Trade

Trump promised he would be tough on trade and make it fair, but his recent trip to Asia was anything but – Trump cowered away from tough talk, failed to secure any meaningful deals, and broke numerous campaign promises. Simply put, it was a complete failure.

Trump Backed Off His Rhetoric And Broke Campaign Promises On Trade:

Trump excoriated the U.S.-South Korea trade deal and said he would “straighten it out and make it fair for everybody.”

TRUMP: “So because of the fact that our trade deal is so bad for the United States and so good for South Korea, I said we’ll focus on the military, but actually we’re going to try to straighten it out and make it fair for everybody.” [Trump Remarks In Meeting With President Moon Of South Korea, New York NY, 9/21/17]

TRUMP: “In the mean time they are killing us in trade. Nothing against South Korea, I do a lot of business with South Korea. I have buildings over there. But honestly we have to get smart folks, we can’t continue to do this. They are an economic behemoth.” [Trump Campaign Town Hall, Manchester NH, 7/1/16]

Trump promised he would crack down on Japan to fix the trade deficit, promising “they’ll do the right thing.”

TRUMP: “Japan–look at that imbalance. Look at that imbalance. We send them beef, right? We send them, from Iowa, beef. They send us hundreds of thousands of cars. Hundreds of thousands. The trade imbalance is massive. They'll do the right thing, but somebody has to tell them to do the right thing.” [Trump Campaign Rally, Des Moines IA, 8/5/16]

TRUMP: “When China thinks you mean it, when Japan thinks you mean it, that we're not going to let them sale the cars like that, because they're killing us. You know what, we sell to Japan? Practically nothing. They have cars coming in by the millions and we sell practically nothing. When Japan thinks we mean it, and they'll stop playing around with the yen.” [Trump Speech And Press Conference, Jupiter FL, 3/8/16]

Trump accused China of “ripping us off” and promised “those days are going to change.”

TRUMP: “He is experienced in certain things but certainly in terms of negotiating with China and all of these countries that have been ripping us off for so many years, they are just ripping us so badly you have no idea — you have no idea even, Bill. And I am the best at that. I deal with them all the time. I have beaten them so many times in terms of private enterprise.” [The O’Reilly Factor, Fox News, 10/14/15]

TRUMP: “You take a look at the intellectual property that China is stealing from our country. Hundreds of billions of dollars a year, we don't even mention it. We don't even talk about it. So those days are going to change.” [Rolling Thunder Run, Washington DC, 5/29/16]

Trump backed off his tough talk on China.

Financial Times: “Trump Rolls Back The Rhetoric On China Visit”

Financial Times: “But his language was remarkably restrained for a man who castigated China so many times during the presidential race that a video of him saying ‘China’ went viral.  Speaking to business leaders before his meeting with the Chinese president, Mr Trump said he did not ‘blame China’ for the US trade deficit with the country.”

ABC’s Cecilia Vega: “You remember, President Trump went after China repeatedly during the campaign trail. China was his punching bag but today right here in the heart of the city with President XI standing by his side it was nothing but praise.” [Good Morning America, ABC, 11/9/17]

Washington Post: “Trump also has spent time during the trip excusing predatory economic behavior of China and other countries and blaming past U.S. administrations for allowing the ‘unfair’ trade imbalances he railed against during the campaign.”

Associated Press: “While Trump made clear that he wanted a more equitable trade relationship, he made no mention of previous campaign threats to label China a currency manipulator, impose double-digit tariffs or authorize draconian trade measures.”

Trump Failed To Deliver Results On Trade:

Trump’s Asia trip highlighted his broader failure to secure trade concessions.

Politico: “President Donald Trump is likely to tout new business deals as he barnstorms through Asia this week, but his trip is highlighting a broader failure on the world stage: None of the countries he’s visiting wants to negotiate a two-way trade deal with the United States.”

BuzzFeed: “From Japan to South Korea to China to Vietnam, the president extended his offer to partner with the United States on a ‘fair and equal basis’ outside of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the multi-nation accord that Trump withdrew from on his first full day in office…But in every country Trump visited, none of the leaders entered trade negotiations or offered significant concessions to the former real estate magnate and Art of the Deal author.”

Politico: “The lack of progress in one-on-one trade deals with Asian countries not only shows the limitations of Trump’s ‘American First’ trade policy, but potentially puts the U.S. in a weaker position as other countries band together to forge trade deals without the United States.”

Bloomberg: “The lack of substance during the trip risks undercutting one of Trump’s main objectives in Asia: to cut deals that effectively narrow the U.S.’s trade deficits with some of the region’s biggest economies. Trump walked away from Japan and South Korea largely empty-handed from visits that focused mostly on solidifying security ties.”

Trump did not make agreements with China on any of the key trade issues about market access.

Bloomberg: “The officials pointed to the fact that there were no agreements on giving U.S. companies more access to Chinese markets, or opening up Chinese financial markets—something investors have been demanding for years.”

Financial Times: “But despite the talk about co-operation, neither Mr Trump nor Mr Xi announced any initiatives to tackle frictions such as US complaints about market access or Chinese concerns about hurdles to investing in US technology companies.”

Trump announced deals with China that contained “little of substance” and did not address the major issues between the two countries.

Bloomberg: “Trump’s $250 Billion China Haul Features Little Of Substance

Associated Press: “US-China Trade Package Mostly About Symbolism

Bloomberg: “The reality, however, is that the roughly 15 agreements unveiled on Thursday are mostly non-binding memorandums of understanding and could take years to materialize—if they do at all.”

Bloomberg: “The non-committal nature of many of the deals reflects a lack of planning or advance work ahead of Trump’s visit to pin down significant agreements or concessions from China, according to two administration officials who asked not to be identified to speak about private deliberations.”

Trump left Japan without any concessions on trade.

Bloomberg: “Trump Is Leaving Japan Empty-Handed On Trade”

Bloomberg: “But throughout Trump’s two-day visit, Abe publicly ducked any talk of major trade concessions even though Trump kept bringing it up. The only major investment cited — a $1 billion project in Tennessee from auto parts maker Denso Corp. — was old news, contrasting with Trump’s plan to announce billions of dollars in deals on his stop in China later this week.”

Trade took a “back seat” in Trump’s South Korea talks, despite his repeated criticism of the trade deal. And the deal he tried to take credit for has been agreed to since 2013.

Bloomberg Businessweek: “In South Korea, which has a free-trade agreement with the U.S. that Trump has repeatedly criticized, trade took a back seat to concerns about the threat from North Korea.”

PBS: “Trump left ‘America first’ at home. ‘There was no mention of the allied agenda that has cropped up in the past – no references to unfair trade, American jobs, or the need for greater allied burden-sharing,’ said Sheila Smith, a senior fellow for Japan studies at the Council on Foreign Relations.”

New York Times: “Officials in South Korea also countered Mr. Trump’s claims of done deals. In the Seoul news conference, Mr. Moon said he and Mr. Trump ‘have agreed to begin the consultations for Korea’s acquisition of such assets.’ Marc Knapper, the acting ambassador to South Korea, told reporters that new arms sales — like Aegis-equipped destroyers and P-8 aircraft — are currently under discussion.  Mr. Knapper also cited an order for F-35 fighters as one of Mr. Trump’s ‘already approved’ orders. Congress was notified of the order of 60 F-35 aircraft from Korea in April 2013, and the two countries signed the agreement in September 2014.”