President Trump’s planned steel and aluminum tariffs will combat China’s “deliberate attempt to bankrupt our strategic industries” vital to our national defense, said Curtis Ellis, the senior policy adviser for America First Policies.
The Chinese government seeks economic hegemony via “predatory trade practices” designed to give China greater control over the global commodity market, Ellis told Breitbart’s Senior Editors-at-Large Rebecca Mansour and Joel Pollak on Thursday’s Breitbart News Tonight on SiriusXM.
“Finally, we have a president who is confronting China and confronting reality; facing the reality of this,” Ellis stated. “China has been overproducing steel and aluminum in a deliberate attempt to bankrupt our strategic industries and to make the entire world dependent on the Chinese industrial behemoth. This is something we unleashed decades ago when Richard Nixon went to China and miscalculated. Ever since then, there’s been a cottage industry in Washington, in the think tanks, in academia, on Wall Street, and in finance. … They’ve joined hands with the Chinese communist party.”
China and other Asian countries violate terms of trade agreements in pursuit of the transfer of manufacturing to their territories, said Ellis. “China and other countries [such as] South Korea and Japan have engaged in predatory trade practices. They have not played by the rules of the World Trade Organization, the International Monetary Fund, the Bretton Woods system. They have gamed the system. They have not lived up to the agreements that they signed, but we kept treating them as if they were and as if they would if we’re just nice and negotiated. This has been going on now for seventeen years, and they have refused to come around because they’re on a deliberate course to try to get companies — American and global companies — to invest in China, [and] transfer their technology.”
The effects of China’s steel and aluminum dumping on domestic producers of the metals is exacerbated via NAFTA, said Ellis. “China has overproduced its steel [and] aluminum, and they have gamed the system again [by] stockpiling aluminum in the Mexican desert, transshipping it through Mexico and through Canada, taking advantage of the low tariff rates, thanks to NAFTA.”
More than half of America’s aluminum smelters have been bankrupted by China’s aluminum dumping, according to Ellis. “It has driven American aluminum smelters into bankruptcy. There used to be 28 in this country; now, there are not even a dozen. This is dangerous stuff. If this continues, in five years, it would be irreversible, and we would become basically an agricultural national dependent on other countries for the production of industrial goods.”
America must halt China’s geopolitical ambitions while the window of opportunity is still open, Ellis said. “One of the reasons [China is] doing these predatory trade practices [is because] China needs constant growth. It needs to export its unemployment [and] poverty. If they don’t continually feed the beast, feed the 1.5 billion people with constantly rising incomes, they would have political instability. In a sense, they need us more than we need them.”
The hemorrhaging of steelmaking and aluminum manufacturing jobs leads to a broader loss of technological know-how, said Ellis. “We don’t just lose steel [and] aluminum. We lose the ability to make [steel and aluminum] and the metallurgical know-how, a science and an art of alloys, advanced alloys, [and] advanced manufacturing. We lose the coal industry. We lose the iron industry. … It’s an entire ecosystem that gets torn apart when you start losing these critical pieces.”
“Globalists,” “swamp creatures,” and assorted interests oppose Trump’s tariff proposals, Ellis remarked. “There’s been a full-court press by the globalists, entrenched swamp creatures, conventional wisdom know-nothings, who’ve gotten it wrong for decades, a full-court press to stop this and reverse. Hopefully, we’re going to see this signed next week.”
The Tariff Act of 1930 — also known as the Smoot-Hawley Act — could be used to restrict the importation of goods and products manufactured with “slave labor” and “child labor,” said Ellis. “One of [the Smoot-Hawley Act’s] clauses, it bans the importation and sale in the U.S. of any goods produced by slave labor or child labor. … It’s never been enforced, unfortunately.”
Ellis dismissed historical narratives crediting tariffs with causing the Great Depression as “overplayed.” Such historiography had been popularized by the late Jude Wanniski, a former associate editor at the Wall Street Journal, he added.
Drawing on Adam Smith, Ellis cast tariffs in certain contexts as restoring fairness to international trade. “If you go right back to Adam Smith, the first proponent of free trade, he said there are times when you must put tariffs on. … When domestic manufacturers have a tax levied on them but foreign manufacturers do not have that tax levied on them, you should impose a tariff on the import of these goods so as you do not place your domestic manufacturers as a disadvantage.”
“If you go right back to Adam Smith, the first proponent of free trade, he said there are times when you must put tariffs on. … When domestic manufacturers have a tax levied on them but foreign manufacturers do not have that tax levied on them, you should impose a tariff on the import of these goods so you do not place your domestic manufacturers at a disadvantage. … We must levy a countervailing duty so that it’s fair competition, so it’s an apples-to-apples comparison. It was true when Adam Smith wrote this is 1776 in The Wealth of Nations, and it’s true now.”
Ellis praised Trump’s stated intentions with respect to trade policy, saying, “I think it was long overdue. We’re talking decades of overdue action. It’s terrific. We’re waiting for [Donald Trump] to sign this next week. … This is great. Finally, we have a president who is confronting China and confronting reality, facing the reality of this. … It’s very possible that President Trump, by doing this, will make China fall into line.”
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