“So here we are, less than a year away from the 2020 election and the Trump administration is threatening a new round of tariffs against China, France, Argentina, Brazil, Austria, Germany, Italy, Turkey … to name a few,” as Bernard Baumohl, chief global economist at the Economic Outlook Group, put it in a research note Tuesday.
Reinsch suggests the exhaustive week for trade news was at least partially the result of bad timing. Threats of tariffs on French cheese and wine, for example, stemmed from a U.S. Trade Representative investigation report into France’s tax on digital services that would disproportionately hit American tech companies with a large web presence in the country.
The results of that report were made public on Monday – which was coincidentally the same day Trump threatened duties on Argentina and Brazil, as well as one of several recent days in which tensions escalated between the U.S. and China over American support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong.
“I don’t think there’s some grand plan or strategy here or that they’re all related to one another,” Reinsch says. “Some are more explainable than others. And some make more sense than others.”