President Donald Trumpâ€™s aggressive new trade policy isnâ€™t going too well. His threats to impose tariffs on imports from China, Europe and other trade partners have so far yielded much less than he promised - and instead of retaliating, he shows signs of backing off.
Itâ€™s right to criticize him for saying one thing and doing another, but bear in mind that he could do worse things than that - such as actually keeping his promise to start a trade war. Given this presidentâ€™s benighted approach to trade and international relations, capitulation with no further damage done would be a pretty good result.
Financial markets were buoyed this week after the U.S. and China announced a truce of sorts.
Trump said the U.S. would soften the penalties it had previously announced on ZTE, a Chinese electronics company that violated U.S. sanctions and then failed to comply with the terms of its settlement with the Commerce Department. China has promised to import more from the U.S. and to address complaints about its support for domestic producers at the expense of American investors. And on Tuesday it said it would cut its tariff on car imports from 25 percent to 15 percent.
To be sure, thereâ€™s little here for Trump to be proud of.
But donâ€™t make the mistake of believing that Trump should demand more. The presidentâ€™s whole approach to these questions has been wrong, and the last thing one should want is for him to carry his reasoning through to its logical conclusion: trade war
So if the administration retreats, fine - especially if it learns the lessons at hand: In leveling the playing field for international trade and investment, cooperation and mutual interest get you a lot further than threats and bluster ever could.