President Donald J. Trump (R-New York) seems to have gone back on one of his most visible campaign promises. A new trade deal indicates that the Donald might want to increase U.S. trade with China.
Trump’s first trade deal; the U.S.-China Comprehensive Economic Dialogue, might increase the American trade deficit with the People’s Republic, Forbes contributor Gordon G. Chang wrote. That might occur because the deal would allow Chinese companies to sell cooked poultry and financial services in the United States.
China would lift a ban on U.S. beef imports in exchange for the end of an American ban on Chinese cooked poultry imports, the Dialogue states. The Chinese would allow U.S. banks, credit card providers and Fintech firms access to their markets beginning on July 17, 2017. In exchange, Chinese banks, Fintech firms and credit card companies would be able to apply to do business in the U.S. on the same day.
Trump, Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin, People’s Republic President Xi Jinping and Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang worked out the deal at Mar-a-Lago in early April, an administration press release indicates. The deal will not please many Trump supporters, but it certainly gives us a good glimpse of what the Trump trade policy will be.
Who would benefit from the Trump Trade Policy?
Smart investors will ask what companies will benefit from this deal? Some potential winners include:
- PayPal Holdings (NASDAQ: PYPL) – it will get access to China, the largest market for digital wallets in the world.
- U.S. credit card providers including MasterCard (NYSE: MA), Visa (NYSE: V), and American Express (NYSE: AXP).
- Ant Financial; Jack Ma’s Fintech unicorn will get greater access to the American market. Ant is planning to roll out its Alipay digital wallet in the United States this summer.
- First Data Corp (NYSE: FDC) First Data has signed a deal to accept Alipay through its Clover payment processing platform.
- U.S. investment banks such as Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS), JPMorgan Chase (NYSE: JPM) and Bank of New York Mellon (NYSE: BK). They will get access to China’s 1.034 million millionaires.
- American ranchers because beef prices might be about to go up.
- U.S. Beef packers such as Tyson Foods (NYSE: TSN), Cargill Meat Solutions, JBS USA and National Beef Packing Co. They might soon have a lot more business.
- Corn growers and feed producers such as Cargill, Purina Animal Nutrition and Archers Daniels Midland (NYSE: ADM). The cattle and chickens will need to be fed.
- Transcontinental railroads such as the Union Pacific (NYSE: UP), Kansas City Southern (NYSE: KSU) and Berkshire Hathaway’s (NYSE: BRK.B) Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF). The cattle and beef will need to be hauled to the ships. Chinese poultry will have to be hauled to American markets.
- Discount retailers and grocers such as Dollar General (NYSE: DG), Dollar Tree (NASDAQ: DLTR), Kroger NYSE: KR), Walgreens (NASDAQ: WBA), Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Aldi and Lidl they will have more cheap chicken, duck and other poultry to sell.
- Hyperloop One and Elon Musk’s SpaceX. The Trump administration has agreed to participate in China’s One Belt and One Road initiative. That’s a scheme to build a new road trail route between Europe and China along the route of the historic Silk Road. Hyperloop would be the perfect cargo and passenger hauling solution for One Route.
- Caterpillar (NYSE: CAT) – a lot of heavy equipment will be needed to build the One Road.
Serious Ethical Questions
This agreement raises serious ethical questions and concerns about the Trump administration’s trade policy. Some of those involved in the negotiations stand to benefit from them.
Mnuchin was a second-generation Goldman Sachs banker who served as the company’s Executive Vice President and Chief Information. Two other top Trump associates are also Goldman Sachs alumni; chief economic advisor Gary Cohn was president and chief operating officer at the bank, and chief strategist Steve Bannon worked there.
Trump himself has extensive business dealings in China. The Guardian reported that the Donald has at least 39 trademark applications pending in the People’s Republic.
Trump’s daughter; Ivanka, and her husband Jarod Kushner also have businesses in China. Ivanka’s company Trump Marks LLC has at 36 trademark applications pending in China, The Guardian reported. Some of them were granted while Xi was at Mir-a-Lago. Kushner’s sister; Natalie Meyer has been trying to raise tens of million dollars in investment for a New Jersey real estate development in China.
Serious Political Problems
These deals may create serious problems for Trump and Republicans down the road. One of Trump’s most popular stands during the presidential campaign was his criticism of China.
The Donald had promised to crackdown on China with a 40% tariff on imports and an attack on currency manipulation. Now he seems to have gone back on those promises which will not sit well with many of his most devoted followers. This deal will not play very well in the Rust Belt where many workers blame China for destroying their jobs.
It also makes Trump himself look very bad by lending credence to U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vermont) allegations that the president is a pathological liar. Trump comes across as just another sleazy, wheeling and dealing politician willing to sell out his supporters rather than a working-class tribune.
Some Democrats; such as Illinois Congressional candidate Austin Songer, are already using the trade deal to attack Trump. Songer is one of a score of Democrats lining up to challenge U.S. Rep. Peter Roskam (R) in Illinois’s Sixth Dstirct. Roskam is considered vulnerable because of his support for the unpopular Republican healthcare bill, Chicago media reported.
Trump’s Crony Capitalism
The deal might also cause Trump problems with some Republicans including Conservative Christians and libertarians. The dialogue certainly smacks of the kind of crony capitalism practiced by the Chinese Communist Party; and proves that Trump and Xi might be ideological soulmates. That will not sit well with libertarians, progressives, fiscal conservatives and human rights advocates.
Christians may question Trump’s close relationship with the leader of an atheist regime. The People’s Republic also has a long history of persecuting Christians and imprisoning clergy, which offends many American believers.
Trump is going to have a hard time explaining the new China deal to some of his supporters. He will also face some nasty attacks from Democrats over it. Expect this issue to come back to haunt Republicans in 2018 and 2020.