A Legal and Economic Critique of President Trump's China Trade Policies

  • Daniel C.K. Chow
  • William McGuire
  • Ian Sheldon


The administration of President Donald J. Trump has warned that it supports an aggressive across the board tariff of 45% on all imports from China to neutralize the effects of China’s currency manipulation. However, such a tariff cannot withstand an economic and legal analysis. Fundamental economic principles indicate that China’s alleged currency devaluation cannot create a real long-term trade advantage and that the effects of currency devaluation have no real effect on the U.S.-China trade balance. Not only is currency manipulation not a cause of the U.S. trade deficit with China but the proposed remedy of a draconian 45% tariff will only create a grievous self-inflicted wound on the U.S. and global economy. From a legal perspective, a 45% tariff cannot be justified under the legal regime of the World Trade Organization as such a tariff runs afoul of the tightly regulated regime of authorized trade sanctions. As the proposed tariff cannot be justified from a legal or economic perspective it is not an advisable or appropriate response to China’s trade practices.
How to Cite
Chow, Daniel C.K., William McGuire, and Ian Sheldon. 2018. “A Legal and Economic Critique of President Trump’s China Trade Policies”. University of Pittsburgh Law Review 79 (2). https://doi.org/10.5195/lawreview.2017.553.