What Donald Trump Gets Right, and Wrong, on Trade

An international freighter berths at the international cargo terminal at Tokyo's port on November 19, 2015. Japan posted a surprise trade surplus in October as the value of energy imports slumped on falling oil prices. The surplus came even as the value of exports declined for the first time since August last year, according to the figures, with those to China falling for the third straight month. AFP PHOTO / Yoshikazu TSUNO (Photo credit should read
Economists, reporters, and pundits have argued vigorously in favor of the free-trade status quo, opposing Donald Trump’s plans to renegotiate trade deals and perhaps impose tariffs. Although their approaches vary somewhat, all argue that deficits don’t matter and trade is working as advertised to benefit Americans. Thus Trump is largely wrong in highlighting trade deficits and unfair foreign practices, and we shouldn’t tamper with current trade arrangements.