Former Trump Adviser Dan DiMicco On China Tariffs NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Dan DiMicco, a former senior trade adviser to Donald Trump in 2016, about the president's trade policies, including his use of tariffs.

Former Trump Adviser Dan DiMicco On China Tariffs

Former Trump Adviser Dan DiMicco On China Tariffs

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NPR's Scott Simon speaks with Dan DiMicco, a former senior trade adviser to Donald Trump in 2016, about the president's trade policies, including his use of tariffs.


The U.S. and China broke off trade talks with no agreement as President Trump raised tariffs from 10% to 25% on $200 billion worth of goods from China. He also directed his trade office to start the process of raising tariffs on essentially all remaining imports from China. China says it will impose necessary countermeasures.

Dan DiMicco is a former trade adviser for Donald Trump in 2016 and is currently chairman for the Coalition for a Prosperous America. Mr. DiMicco, thanks so much for being with us.

DAN DIMICCO: My pleasure, Scott.

SIMON: President Trump tweeted, tariffs will make our country MUCH STRONGER - all caps - not weaker. Just sit back and watch. But economists usually don't like tariffs, do they? It raises prices, reduces purchases and production. How does this make the U.S. stronger?

DIMICCO: Well, listen; our economists have been dead wrong for a long time about the fact that free trade would work for us. And they have - are dead wrong now again. For far too long, China has repeatedly threatened U.S. economic and national security interests. And, finally, we have a president who's serious about getting tough on China and fighting for fair, reciprocal trade. And Trump is taking a long overdue action here on this.

He's standing up to China's unfair trade practices. He defended American intellectual property. The whole world knows that China cheats. This is not new news. It's been talked about in every major newspaper. Even the economists recognize that. But they've been dead wrong about the impact of tariffs, and we can talk some more about that.

SIMON: Well, you know, we have interviewed people, as every news organization has, over the past few months about the effect of - people who say they're hurt by the tariffs. Soybean futures are at their lowest prices in a decade. We've interviewed farmers, manufacturers who use steel, people in the fishing industry in Maine. They've been hurt by tariffs that have gone up 10%. Now it'll be 25%. Won't Americans wind up paying more?

DIMICCO: Well, here's the reality, OK? You talk to some people, and some people certainly have reasonable concerns about some pain. But the vast impact on our economy is demonstrated by the fact that, you know, import prices have been flat for the last 12 months. Things like nonfuel import prices actually fell 20%. Tariffs are raising domestic production, and with no significant price increases. Even when you talk about steel, steel prices are back down to where they were before tariffs were put in place. And those tariffs I'm talking about are the 232s.

SIMON: Well...

DIMICCO: Yet, free traders in their fantasy world want to keep saying the tariffs are raising prices. The reality is they're not, and it's demonstrated by the performance of the economy. And for every one that you could bring to me that says, oh, we've been harmed, I can give you a hundred examples where they're not. You can take a look at GM. You take a look at Ford. All their money's being made in the United States, not in China. They both benefit by 25% tariffs that have been on trucks for decades, OK?

And you bring up the point about soybeans. Well, the reality is the soybean issue has been going on with farmers for many, many years now - six, seven-plus years. The tariffs have been put in place, but one of the biggest factors affecting China's imports of soybeans is this swine flu that's in their farming because now they're reducing the amount of purchases because of that. So there's a lot of other things that go into this, Scott.

SIMON: We're about to run out of time, Mr. DiMicco. But are you willing to say to Americans quite bluntly, look; some of you are going to lose out this way, but we think it's the great - for the greater good of America?

DIMICCO: Exactly. Here's what I would - I'm going to say to all Americans. We are in an existential battle with China. They've been waging a trade war with us for 20-plus years. They've destroyed millions and millions of jobs. Tens of millions of people have been negatively impacted. Our social costs have gone through the roof. Also, we can get cheaper underwear. Enough's enough. China's the aggressor. It's time to stand up. Thank you, President Trump.

SIMON: Thanks so much, Mr. DiMicco.

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