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Why Donald Trump’s Trade War Will Fail

为什么唐纳德•特朗普的贸易战会失败


  
Sometimes in soccer, an attempt to defend one’s turf results in a score for the opposing team—an “own goal.” There have already been nine such incidents of self-sabotage in the 2018 World Cup, by far the most in the history of the tournament. But you won’t find the most spectacular example of the summer on the pitch in Russia. That distinction goes to Donald Trump’s administration, whose determination to start a trade war with China is, like the best own goals in soccer, muscular in its approach, blind in its aim, and self-injurious in its consequences.

在足球比赛中,试图保卫自己地盘的行为有时候会让对方球队得分——这就是“乌龙球”。在2018年世界杯上,迄今为止已经发生了9起这样的自我破坏事件,这是这一杯赛历史上数量最多的一届。但是你不会在俄罗斯的球场上找到今年夏天最壮观的例子。这一区别就在于唐纳德•特朗普政府。他决心与中国展开贸易战,就像足球中最精彩的乌龙球一样,手段威风凛凛,目标却是盲目的,其后果则是不利己的。

After months of warnings and threats and failed negotiations with China, United States officials have started collecting tariffs on $34 billion worth of Chinese goods. In response, Beijing has said that it will retaliate with levies on American pork, soybeans, and cars. In response to that response, Trump has promised to re-retaliate by applying tariffs to more than $200 billion worth of goods from China if Beijing follows through.

经过几个月的警告和威胁,以及与中国的谈判失败之后,美国官员已经开始对价值340亿美元的中国商品征收关税。作为回应,中国政府已表示将对美国猪肉、大豆和汽车征收报复性关税。作为对这一回应的回应,特朗普承诺,如果北京方面坚持这么做,将对来自中国的价值超过2000亿美元的商品征收关税。

This sort of volley is dramatically referred to as a trade war, but it might be more productive to think of it as an international tax standoff. The vocabulary around trade is filled with specialized terms like tariff, levies, and retaliatory measures. But a tariff is simply a tax paid by companies that import foreign goods. This has the effect of raising prices on foreign stuff, theoretically making domestic industries more competitive. A quick example: A U.S. tariff on alcohol from Scotland raises the price of scotch for American drinkers. That punishes scotch fans like me, but it helps American whiskey distillers by making bourbon more attractive to consumers.

这种连珠炮式的行为被戏剧性地称为一场贸易战,但把它看作是一场国际税收的僵局可能会更有成效。贸易方面的词汇充斥着诸如关税、征税和报复性措施等专门术语。但关税只是进口外国商品的公司所缴纳的税款。这就导致了提高外国产品价格的效果,理论上使得国内产业更具竞争力。举个简单的例子:美国对苏格兰的酒征收关税提高了美国饮酒者购买威士忌的价格。这将惩罚到像我这样的苏格兰威士忌美国消费者,但它通过让波旁威士忌变得对消费者更有吸引力来帮助美国威士忌酒厂。

“Trade wars are good and easy to win,” Trump has said. Let’s consider those adjectives, one at a time. First, trade wars aren’t “good” in any meaningful sense of the word. The damage from Trump’s tariffs has been widely reported. Harley-Davidson announced that it will move some production overseas to offset European Union tariffs. Banks have postponed investments in new American factories for fear that they’ll be caught in the crossfire. Whiskey distilleries are worried that new tariffs will dry up exports to Asia and Europe. Maybe none of these fears will materialize and, in six months, the effects of these tariffs will be barely perceptible. Or maybe Trump will look up to see the ball in the back of his own net: Of the 30 congressional districts hit hardest by China's retaliatory tariffs, 25 voted for Trump.

特朗普曾经说过:“贸易战很好,很容易取胜”。让我们考虑一下这些形容词,一个一个来。首先,贸易战争在任何意义上都不是“好的”。特朗普关税造成的损害已被广泛报道。哈雷·戴维森公司宣布将把部分生产线转移到海外以抵消欧盟的关税。银行已经推迟了对美国新工厂的投资,因为担心它们会在交火中受到殃及。威士忌酒厂担心新的关税会使对亚洲和欧洲的出口减少。也许这些担忧都不会成为现实,而在六个月的时间里,这些关税的影响也难以察觉。或者,特朗普可能会在自己的球门网后面看到这个球:在30个被中国报复性关税打击得最严重的国会选区中,有25个是投票支持特朗普的。

Second, a trade war is indeed “easy to win”—if you’re taxing imports from, say, a tiny island led by a weak government going into an uncertain election with no means of bailing out its weakened industries. China has none of those distinctions. It is a massive socialist market economy, led by an undemocratic leadership facing no electoral pressure, which spends oodles of money subsidizing its domestic businesses, all the time. As film buffs know, “Never get involved in a land war in Asia” refers to one of history’s classic blunders; only slightly less well-known is “Never go in against a socialist market economy when midterms are on the line.”

其次,贸易战争确实是“容易取胜”的——如果你对从一个由即将进入不确定的选举期、没有办法拯救被削弱的产业的软弱政府领导的小岛征税的话,的确如此。中国却绝非如此。这是一个规模巨大的社会主义市场经济体,由一个不民主的领导层领导,他们没有选举压力,他们总是花大量的钱来补贴国内企业。正如电影迷们所知道的,“永远不要在亚洲卷入领土战争”,这说的是历史上的一个经典错误;比这句话稍微出名一点的就是“当中期选举危在旦夕时,永远不要与一个社会主义市场经济对抗”。

So what exactly is President Trump trying to accomplish here? It’s important to state that American and European companies have real gripes with China, which has spied on foreign companies and forced Western tech firms to hand over patented technology as a condition for selling into the Chinese market. Pressuring China to change course will take a coordinated global effort, a careful construction of alliances around the world, and a cautious approach to nudging China toward lowering its barriers to entry.

那么,特朗普总统到底想在通过这种方式得到什么呢?在这里,阐明美国和欧洲的公司对中国怀有真正的不满是很重要的。中国曾暗中监视外国公司,并迫使西方科技公司将专利技术转让给中国市场。向中国施压,要求中国改弦更张,将需要全球协调一致的努力,在全球范围内精心构建联盟,并采取谨慎的方式推动中国降低准入门槛。

But rather than cultivating alliances, Trump is smashing them left and right. He’s raised taxes on steel imports from Canada and the EU and trashed the nato alliance, at the very time that the China problem begs for international assistance. The tactics and the strategy are going in opposite directions.

但是,特朗普并没有培育联盟,而是把它们打击地支离破碎。他对来自加拿大和欧盟的进口钢铁征税,并且在就中国问题寻求国际援助的时候,对北约大加破坏。他的策略和战略正在南辕北辙。

“Trump is inflicting genuine economic costs on the country without necessarily achieving any particular goals,” says Josh Meltzer, a senior fellow in the Global Economy and Development program at the Brookings Institution. “Instead, we’ve raised tariffs on our allies and alienated them, which has allowed China to portray us as the global outlier.”

布鲁金斯学会全球经济与发展项目高级研究员乔希•梅尔策指出:“特朗普正在给这个国家带来真正的经济成本,却没有实现任何特定目标。相反,我们提高了对盟友的关税,疏远了它们,这让中国有机会把我们描绘成全球的局外人”。

In the larger analysis, Trump’s presidency and Chinese trade have a significant, if latent, historical connection. In the early 2000s, Americans started buying significantly more goods from China after it joined the World Trade Organization, in 2001. Prices fell for most consumers, but exposure to the Chinese market also destroyed millions of jobs, especially in cities with a large manufacturing presence. Years later, those very cities became significantly more likely to vote for Donald Trump, according to research by the economist David Autor. So it is not hyperbolic to say that trade with China, and its effect on the labor force, helped elect Trump.

在更详细的分析中,特朗普的总统任期和中国的贸易有一个重要的、潜在的历史联系。在21世纪初,美国人在中国于2001年加入世界贸易组织后开始从中国购买更多的商品。对于大多数消费者而言,商品价格下跌了,但暴露在中国市场面前也摧毁了数以百万计的就业岗位,尤其是在制造业规模较大的城市中。根据经济学家大卫奥特尔的研究,多年后,这些城市明显更有可能投票给唐纳德•特朗普。因此,认为与中国的贸易及其对劳动力的影响有助于特朗普的当选,并不是什么夸张的说法。

But there are better ways to ameliorate displaced manufacturing workers than waging a trade war against the entire world. A stronger safety net, universal benefits, and a federal strategy to pay people to move to different cities would all help soften the acute effects of globalization for workers in certain industries. “The U.S. has not done well with moving people around, helping them skill up, preventing free trade from leading to political backlash,” Meltzer says. “You need to have a more comprehensive system in place to help workers who have lost their jobs, and the U.S. has never done that well.”

但是,有更好的方法来改善流离失所的制造业工人的状况,而不是发动一场针对整个世界的贸易战。一个更强大的安全网络,普遍存在的利益,以及一项花钱让人们移居到不同的城市的联邦政策,都有助于缓和全球化对某些行业工人的严重影响。迈尔泽指出:“美国在调动人们的行动、帮助他们提高技能、防止自由贸易导致政治反弹方面做得并不好。你需要有一个更全面的系统来帮助那些失去工作的工人,而美国从来没有这么做过”。

U.S. economic policy has failed to make globalization safe for democracy. In such a scenario, an own goal doesn’t seem like such a surprising error. Defenders are more likely to kick the ball into their own net when there’s nowhere else to turn.

美国的经济政策未能构建全球化对民主的安全保障。在这种情况下,一个自我的目标似乎并不是一个令人惊讶的错误。当没有其他地方可以转身腾挪时,防守方更有可能把球踢进自己的球门中。