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AP Fact Check: Is a Trade War ‘Easy to Win?’

In agitating for a trade war, President Donald Trump may have forgotten William Tecumseh Sherman’s adage that “war is hell.”

The Civil War general’s observation can be apt for trade wars, which may create conditions for a shooting war.

A look at Trump’s spoiling-for-a-fight tweet Friday:

TRUMP: “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”

THE FACTS: History suggests that trade wars are not easy.

The president’s argument, in essence, is that high tariffs will force other countries to relent quickly on what he sees as unfair trading practices, and that will wipe out the trade gap and create factory jobs. That’s his motivation for announcing that the U.S. will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

The record shows that tariffs, while they may help certain domestic manufacturers, can come at a broad cost. They can raise prices for consumers and businesses because companies pass on at least some of the higher costs of imported materials to their customers. Winning and losing isn’t as simple a matter as tracking the trade gap.

The State Department’s office of the historian looked at tariffs passed in the 1920s and 1930s to protect farms and other industries that were losing their markets in Europe as the continent recovered from World War I. The U.S. duties hurt Europe and made it harder for those countries to repay their war debts, while exposing farmers and consumers in the U.S. to higher prices. European nations responded by raising their tariffs and the volume of world trade predictably slowed by 1934.

The State Department says the tariffs exacerbated the global effects of the Great Depression while doing nothing to foster political or economic cooperation among countries. This was a diplomatic way of saying that the economic struggles helped embolden extremist politics and geopolitical rivalries before World War II.

Nor have past protectionist measures saved the steel industry, as Trump says his tariffs would.

The United States first became a net importer of steel in 1959, when steelworkers staged a 116-day strike, according to research by Michael O. Moore, a George Washington University economist. After that, U.S. administrations imposed protectionist policies, only to see global competitors adapt and the U.S. share of global steel production decline.

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AP Fact Check: Is a Trade War ‘Easy to Win?’

In agitating for a trade war, President Donald Trump may have forgotten William Tecumseh Sherman’s adage that “war is hell.”

The Civil War general’s observation can be apt for trade wars, which may create conditions for a shooting war.

A look at Trump’s spoiling-for-a-fight tweet Friday:

TRUMP: “When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”

THE FACTS: History suggests that trade wars are not easy.

The president’s argument, in essence, is that high tariffs will force other countries to relent quickly on what he sees as unfair trading practices, and that will wipe out the trade gap and create factory jobs. That’s his motivation for announcing that the U.S. will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

The record shows that tariffs, while they may help certain domestic manufacturers, can come at a broad cost. They can raise prices for consumers and businesses because companies pass on at least some of the higher costs of imported materials to their customers. Winning and losing isn’t as simple a matter as tracking the trade gap.

The State Department’s office of the historian looked at tariffs passed in the 1920s and 1930s to protect farms and other industries that were losing their markets in Europe as the continent recovered from World War I. The U.S. duties hurt Europe and made it harder for those countries to repay their war debts, while exposing farmers and consumers in the U.S. to higher prices. European nations responded by raising their tariffs and the volume of world trade predictably slowed by 1934.

The State Department says the tariffs exacerbated the global effects of the Great Depression while doing nothing to foster political or economic cooperation among countries. This was a diplomatic way of saying that the economic struggles helped embolden extremist politics and geopolitical rivalries before World War II.

Nor have past protectionist measures saved the steel industry, as Trump says his tariffs would.

The United States first became a net importer of steel in 1959, when steelworkers staged a 116-day strike, according to research by Michael O. Moore, a George Washington University economist. After that, U.S. administrations imposed protectionist policies, only to see global competitors adapt and the U.S. share of global steel production decline.

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China Joins Chorus, Warns of ‘Huge Impact’ of Trump’s Tariff Plan 

China has warned about the “huge impact” on global trading, if U.S. President Donald Trump proceeds with his plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum products.

Wang Hejun, head of China’s commerce ministry’s trade remedy and investigation bureau, said in a statement late Friday the tariffs would “seriously damage multilateral trade mechanisms represented by the World Trade Organization and will surely have huge impact on normal international trade order.”

The Chinese official added, “If the final measures of the United States hurt Chinese interests, China will work with other affected countries in taking measures to safeguard its own rights and interests.”

Allies weigh in

Meanwhile earlier Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Trump’s tariff plans were “absolutely unacceptable.”

Trudeau said Friday he is prepared to “defend Canadian industry.” Canada is the United States’ biggest foreign source of both materials. He warned that the tariffs would also hurt U.S. consumers and businesses by driving up prices.

The European Union was also stung by Trump’s plan, as evidenced by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s warning that the EU could respond by taxing quintessentially American-made products, such as bourbon whiskey, blue jeans and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Juncker told German media Friday that he does not like the words “trade war.” 

“But I can’t see how this isn’t part of warlike behavior,” he said.

Trump had tweeted earlier in the day: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

The director of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevedo, responded coolly, saying, “A trade war is in no one’s interests.”

Currency markets 

The currency market responded with a drop in the value of the U.S. dollar against most other major currencies. It ended the day at its lowest level against the yen in two years. The euro gained a half-percent against the dollar Friday.

And the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the trading week with its fourth decline in as many days, ending at 24,538.06. The Nasdaq and S&P 500, however, rose slightly after a three-day losing streak.

Trump spent Friday defending his threat to impose the tariffs, saying potential trade conflicts can be beneficial to the United States.

A Japanese government official told VOA that Tokyo “has explained several times to the U.S. government our concerns,” but declined to comment further on any ongoing discussions with Washington.

“While we are aware of the president’s statement, we understand that the official decision has not been made yet,” the Japanese official said. “If the U.S. is going to implement any measures, we expect the measures be WTO-rules consistent.”

Trump said Thursday the tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports will be in effect for a long period of time. He said the measure will be signed “sometime next week.”

In 2017, Canada, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico accounted for nearly half of all U.S. steel imports. That year, Chinese steel accounted for less than 2 percent of overall U.S. imports.

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China Joins Chorus, Warns of ‘Huge Impact’ of Trump’s Tariff Plan 

China has warned about the “huge impact” on global trading, if U.S. President Donald Trump proceeds with his plans to impose 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum products.

Wang Hejun, head of China’s commerce ministry’s trade remedy and investigation bureau, said in a statement late Friday the tariffs would “seriously damage multilateral trade mechanisms represented by the World Trade Organization and will surely have huge impact on normal international trade order.”

The Chinese official added, “If the final measures of the United States hurt Chinese interests, China will work with other affected countries in taking measures to safeguard its own rights and interests.”

Allies weigh in

Meanwhile earlier Friday, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Trump’s tariff plans were “absolutely unacceptable.”

Trudeau said Friday he is prepared to “defend Canadian industry.” Canada is the United States’ biggest foreign source of both materials. He warned that the tariffs would also hurt U.S. consumers and businesses by driving up prices.

The European Union was also stung by Trump’s plan, as evidenced by European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker’s warning that the EU could respond by taxing quintessentially American-made products, such as bourbon whiskey, blue jeans and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Juncker told German media Friday that he does not like the words “trade war.” 

“But I can’t see how this isn’t part of warlike behavior,” he said.

Trump had tweeted earlier in the day: “Trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

The director of the World Trade Organization, Roberto Azevedo, responded coolly, saying, “A trade war is in no one’s interests.”

Currency markets 

The currency market responded with a drop in the value of the U.S. dollar against most other major currencies. It ended the day at its lowest level against the yen in two years. The euro gained a half-percent against the dollar Friday.

And the Dow Jones Industrial Average finished the trading week with its fourth decline in as many days, ending at 24,538.06. The Nasdaq and S&P 500, however, rose slightly after a three-day losing streak.

Trump spent Friday defending his threat to impose the tariffs, saying potential trade conflicts can be beneficial to the United States.

A Japanese government official told VOA that Tokyo “has explained several times to the U.S. government our concerns,” but declined to comment further on any ongoing discussions with Washington.

“While we are aware of the president’s statement, we understand that the official decision has not been made yet,” the Japanese official said. “If the U.S. is going to implement any measures, we expect the measures be WTO-rules consistent.”

Trump said Thursday the tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports will be in effect for a long period of time. He said the measure will be signed “sometime next week.”

In 2017, Canada, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico accounted for nearly half of all U.S. steel imports. That year, Chinese steel accounted for less than 2 percent of overall U.S. imports.

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Trump Heads to Florida Resort After Chaotic Week on Guns and Trade

President Donald Trump will spend the weekend at his resort in Florida after a busy if not chaotic week that saw the president assert himself on a range of issues including gun violence, international trade and the opioid crisis. Trump is often eager to seize the spotlight, but the results are often unpredictable, as we hear from VOA National correspondent Jim Malone.

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Vero a Hot Instagram Alternative, but Will It Last?

Instagram users fed up with the service becoming more and more like Facebook are flocking to a hot new app called Vero.

Vero lets you share photos and video just like Instagram, plus it lets you talk about music, movies or books you like or hate. Though Vero has been around since 2015, its popularity surged in recent days, thanks in part to sudden, word-of-mouth interest from the cosplay community — comic book fans who like to dress up as characters. That interest then spread to other online groups.

There’s also a growing frustration with Instagram, with a flood of ads, dearth of privacy options and a recent end to the chronological ordering of posts. Instagram users have been posting screenshots of Vero, asking their friends to join.

But don’t ring Instagram’s death knells just yet. Hot new apps pop up and fizzle by the dozen, so the odds are stacked against Vero. Remember Ello? Peach? Thought so.

“Young people are super fickle and nothing has caught on in the way that Snapchat or Instagram has,” said Debra Aho Williamson, an eMarketer analyst who specializes in social media.

From 2015 until this past week, Vero was little known, with fewer than 200,000 users, according to CEO Ayman Hariri. Then cosplay members started posting photos of elaborate costumes and makeup. Photographers, tattoo artists and others followed. As of Thursday, Vero was approaching 3 million users, Hariri said.

A fee, eventually

Vero has gotten so popular in recent days that some users have reported widespread outages and error messages. Vero says it’s working to keep up in response “a large wave of new users.”

Vero works on Apple or Android mobile devices and is free, at least for now. The company eventually wants to charge a subscription fee.

There are no ads, and the service promises “no data mining. Ever.” That means it won’t try to sell you stuff based on your interests and habits, as revealed through your posts. Of course, Facebook started out without ads and “data mining,” and it’s now one of the top internet advertising companies. Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 and started showing ads there the following year.

Instagram’s privacy settings are all or nothing: You either make everything available to everyone on Instagram, or make everything visible only to approved friends. Vero lets you set the privacy level of individual posts. If you don’t want something available to all users, you can choose just close friends, friends or acquaintances.

Another big difference: Vero shows friends’ posts in chronological order rather than tailored to your perceived tastes, as determined by software. Instagram got rid of chronological presentations in 2016, a change that hasn’t gone well with many users.

Founder was already wealthy

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg became a billionaire after starting the service. Vero’s founder was already one.

Hariri is the son of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafic Hariri and helped run the family’s now-defunct construction company in Saudi Arabia. He got a computer science degree from Georgetown and returned to Saudi Arabia after his father was assassinated in 2005. His half brother, Saad, is Lebanon’s current prime minister.

Hariri’s ties with the family business, Saudi Oger, have come into question. The company has been accused in recent years of failing to pay workers and stranding them with little food and access to medical care. Vero says Hariri hasn’t had any operational or financial involvement with the business since late 2013.

Hariri said he started the service not to replace Instagram but to give people “a more authentic social network.” Because Vero doesn’t sell ads, he said, it isn’t simply trying to get people to stay on longer. More important, he said, is “how you feel when you use [it] and how you feel it’s useful.”

Newcomers like Ello and Peach can quickly become popular as people fed up with bigger services itch for something new. But reality can set in when people realize that their friends are not on the new services or that these services aren’t all they promised to be.

Williamson, the eMarketer analyst, said it’s difficult for a new service to become something people use for more than a few weeks.

A rare exception is Snapchat, which was founded in 2010, the same year as Instagram. Unlike Instagram, it has remained an independent company and is still a popular service among younger people. But even Snapchat is having trouble growing more broadly.

EMarketer recently published a report that predicted 2 million people under 25 leaving Facebook for other apps this year. But that means going to Snapchat and the Facebook-owned Instagram, not necessarily emerging services like Vero.

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Trump’s Proposed Tariffs Spark Fears of Trade War, Price Hikes

U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports sparked concerns of a trade war Friday, with emerging markets trading lower and some world leaders threatening to take retaliatory measures.

Japan’s Nikkei share average fell to a more than two-week low Friday. The Nikkei ended 2.5 percent lower at 21,181.64 points, its lowest closing since Feb. 14.

“Automakers will have to bear the cost, and they may also have to raise prices while auto sales are already sluggish,” said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities. “This isn’t looking good to the auto sector.”

​China, EU, Canada react

China on Friday expressed “grave concern” about the apparent U.S. trade policy but had no immediate response to Trump’s announcement that he will increase duties on steel and aluminum imports.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker denounced Trump’s trade plan as “a blatant intervention to protect U.S. domestic industry.” He said the EU would take retaliatory measures, it Trump implements his plan.

Canada said it would “take responsive measures” to protect its trade interests and workers if the restrictions are imposed on its steel and aluminum products.

Trump said Thursday the tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports will be in effect for a long period of time. He said the measure will be signed “sometime next week.”

The trade war talk had stocks closing sharply lower on Wall Street.

The American International Automobile Dealers Association said Trump’s tariff plans would increase prices substantially.

“This is going to have fallout on our downstream suppliers, particularly in the automotive, machinery and aircraft sectors,” said Wendy Cutler, a former U.S. trade official. “What benefits one industry can hurt another. What saves one job can jeopardize another,” she said.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president’s decision “shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.” She said Trump had talked about the trade plans “for decades.”

Republicans speak out

Not all of Trump’s fellow Republican politicians agreed with his trade war talk.

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said, “You’d expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one.”

A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said the House majority leader hoped the president would “consider the unintended consequences of this idea and look at other approaches before moving forward.”

Trump posted on Twitter Thursday about trade policy.

At the Thursday meeting, President Trump said the NAFTA trade pact and the World Trade Organization have been disasters for the United States. He asserted “the rise of China economically was directly equal to the date of the opening of the World Trade Organization.”

Trump told officials from steel and aluminum companies that the United States “hasn’t been treated fairly by other countries, but I don’t blame the other countries.”

In 2017, Canada, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico accounted for nearly half of all U.S. steel imports. That year, Chinese steel accounted for less than 2 percent of overall U.S. imports.

President Trump said he has a lot of respect for Chinese President Xi Jinping, and when he was in China, he told President Xi, “I don’t blame you, if you can get away with almost 500 billion dollars a year off of our country, how can I blame you? Somebody agreed to these deals. Those people should be ashamed of themselves for what they let happened.”

Xi’s top economic adviser, Liu He, is set to visit the White House Thursday to meet with top administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

A White House official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters that they expect a “frank exchange of views” and will focus on “the substantive issues.”

Ryan L. Hass, the David M. Rubenstein Fellow at John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings Institution told VOA he believes in the best-case scenario, Liu’s visit will assure both sides that “they are committed to solving underlying problems in the bilateral trade relationship.” Hass noted, “In such a scenario, both sides would agree on the problems that need to be addressed, the framework for addressing them, and the participants and timeline for concluding negotiations.”

Hass said if Liu’s visit fails to exceed the White House’s expectations, then the probability of unilateral U.S. trade actions against China will go up.

“If the U.S. takes unilateral actions, China likely will respond proportionately, and that could set off a tit-for-tat cycle leading to a trade war,” Hass said.

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Trump’s Proposed Tariffs Spark Fears of Trade War, Price Hikes

U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports sparked concerns of a trade war Friday, with emerging markets trading lower and some world leaders threatening to take retaliatory measures.

Japan’s Nikkei share average fell to a more than two-week low Friday. The Nikkei ended 2.5 percent lower at 21,181.64 points, its lowest closing since Feb. 14.

“Automakers will have to bear the cost, and they may also have to raise prices while auto sales are already sluggish,” said Takuya Takahashi, a strategist at Daiwa Securities. “This isn’t looking good to the auto sector.”

​China, EU, Canada react

China on Friday expressed “grave concern” about the apparent U.S. trade policy but had no immediate response to Trump’s announcement that he will increase duties on steel and aluminum imports.

European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker denounced Trump’s trade plan as “a blatant intervention to protect U.S. domestic industry.” He said the EU would take retaliatory measures, it Trump implements his plan.

Canada said it would “take responsive measures” to protect its trade interests and workers if the restrictions are imposed on its steel and aluminum products.

Trump said Thursday the tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports will be in effect for a long period of time. He said the measure will be signed “sometime next week.”

The trade war talk had stocks closing sharply lower on Wall Street.

The American International Automobile Dealers Association said Trump’s tariff plans would increase prices substantially.

“This is going to have fallout on our downstream suppliers, particularly in the automotive, machinery and aircraft sectors,” said Wendy Cutler, a former U.S. trade official. “What benefits one industry can hurt another. What saves one job can jeopardize another,” she said.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the president’s decision “shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone.” She said Trump had talked about the trade plans “for decades.”

Republicans speak out

Not all of Trump’s fellow Republican politicians agreed with his trade war talk.

Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska said, “You’d expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one.”

A spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said the House majority leader hoped the president would “consider the unintended consequences of this idea and look at other approaches before moving forward.”

Trump posted on Twitter Thursday about trade policy.

At the Thursday meeting, President Trump said the NAFTA trade pact and the World Trade Organization have been disasters for the United States. He asserted “the rise of China economically was directly equal to the date of the opening of the World Trade Organization.”

Trump told officials from steel and aluminum companies that the United States “hasn’t been treated fairly by other countries, but I don’t blame the other countries.”

In 2017, Canada, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico accounted for nearly half of all U.S. steel imports. That year, Chinese steel accounted for less than 2 percent of overall U.S. imports.

President Trump said he has a lot of respect for Chinese President Xi Jinping, and when he was in China, he told President Xi, “I don’t blame you, if you can get away with almost 500 billion dollars a year off of our country, how can I blame you? Somebody agreed to these deals. Those people should be ashamed of themselves for what they let happened.”

Xi’s top economic adviser, Liu He, is set to visit the White House Thursday to meet with top administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Trump’s chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

A White House official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters that they expect a “frank exchange of views” and will focus on “the substantive issues.”

Ryan L. Hass, the David M. Rubenstein Fellow at John L. Thornton China Center and the Center for East Asia Policy Studies at Brookings Institution told VOA he believes in the best-case scenario, Liu’s visit will assure both sides that “they are committed to solving underlying problems in the bilateral trade relationship.” Hass noted, “In such a scenario, both sides would agree on the problems that need to be addressed, the framework for addressing them, and the participants and timeline for concluding negotiations.”

Hass said if Liu’s visit fails to exceed the White House’s expectations, then the probability of unilateral U.S. trade actions against China will go up.

“If the U.S. takes unilateral actions, China likely will respond proportionately, and that could set off a tit-for-tat cycle leading to a trade war,” Hass said.

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