It’s hard to ignore the reality that Donald Trump doesn’t understand the principles of international trade and the many moving parts involved in agreements between countries. He promised his supporters he’d bring back their old manufacturing and mining jobs (something that’s likely never going to happen, thanks to automation and other new technologies) and seems to believe he can accomplish this by fiat.
As nearly every economist has eagerly pointed out, Trump’s proposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum might result in domestic employment increases in those protected industries, but will result in much larger job losses in manufacturing businesses that rely on steel and aluminum. Further, the tariffs Trump proposes do more damage to our allies (Canada for example, which is our largest steel importer) than to China, and runs the risk of starting an actual trade war.
But … details! Trump’s never expressed interest in understanding the finer points of policy. Why start now?