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China Tariffs: A New Price For Patriotism

China Tariffs: A New Price For Patriotism

President Trump yesterday followed through on his threat to impose tariffs on another $200 billion worth of Chinese exports to the United States. A 10 percent levy will go into effect immediately, rising to 25 percent on 1 January 2019. China, undeterred by Trump’s willingness to up the ante, has already pledged to retaliate. A negotiated compromise to end the US-China trade war looks as far off as ever.


This round of tariffs puts a new group of people on the front lines of that war: a broad swathe of American consumers. Trump’s earlier rounds of China tariffs – which are meant to force China to stop unfairly subsidizing its own companies while extracting technology from foreign ones – focused largely on industrial equipment purchased by American firms.

But the new measures include things like Chinese-made computers, furniture, home appliances, and food products that ordinary Americans purchase in large quantities. Industry organizations and consumer advocates have warned that these tariffs could cost jobsreduce economic growth, and erode living standards, particularly for middle class and lower-income people, who tend to spend more of their income on imported goods.  By one official estimate, cheaper imported goods account for more than a quarter of the American middle class’s purchasing power.

In practice, the new tariffs may not show up fully in the price of your (or your American friends’) next vacuum or laptop – in part because many suppliers will be able to source things from countries other than China (and also partly why Trump’s focus on China may not affect the overall US trade deficit.)

But it does raise an important question for an American society that has gotten very used to cheap consumer goods from China over the past several decades. What price are people willing to pay in the name of economic nationalism and solidarity with domestic industries?

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Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

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