Nancy Pelosi wants US to be tougher on China than Donald Trump by aligning with EU to pressure Beijing on trade
- House speaker says president weakened US position in trade war by alienating Europe with duties
- US needs to go beyond using tariffs as a primary weapon and instead engage allies like EU, Pelosi argues
“We have leverage,” Pelosi said. “So, what did the president do? Alienate the EU by putting tariffs on them. So they’re now looking out for themselves vis-à-vis us.”
She said the US needs to be more “strategic”, moving trade policy beyond using tariffs as a primary weapon and instead engage allies like the EU that share US interests as well as its complaints about China.
“It has to be more comprehensive so that China knows they can’t do this any more,” Pelosi said.
The Trump administration has taken a mainly unilateral approach to the trade war with China, imposing tariffs on some US$360 billion in imported Chinese goods to try to force economic reforms.
So far, though, it has had limited success, if any. While the tariffs have forced many companies to contemplate shifting supply chains out of China the Trump administration has yet to deliver the sort of comprehensive change in Chinese behaviour it has sought.
Pelosi joins other Democrats, including those running for president in 2020 like former vice-president Joe Biden, who argue that Trump has weakened his hand with China by concurrently waging trade battles and imposing tariffs against long-standing allies like the EU.
Critics say Trump’s use of tariffs – and the retaliation it has provoked from China and the EU among others – has also hurt US farmers and workers.
The US also imposed tariffs on US$7.5 billion of EU goods, ranging from planes to spirits, after the Trump administration won a long-standing World Trade Organisation case involving aircraft subsidies.
The EU has pledged to hit back with its own tariffs, risking a further escalation of tensions.