Trump Says ‘Decoupling’ From China on the Table

Top Trump adviser warned him this was not reasonable just a day before

In an era of globalized trading, the idea of “decoupling” from another nation’s economy, totally cutting off all economic dependencies, is a tall order. Nowhere is that more of an issue than with the United States and China, with over $600 billion in annual trade.

After damaging trade wars with China, and a day after Trump’s top trade adviser said complete decoupling isn’t a “reasonable policy” that could actually be considered, President Trump is still insisting it remains an option that is on the table.

Saying it is an option and actually doing it are two different things, and for the world’s the two largest economies to totally disconnect from each other would create economic devastation on a global scale. The US would almost certainly take the worst of it, trying to replace things imported from China without anyplace else actually making them.

That it is talked about at all reflects President Trump’s skewed view of trade as a zero-sum game, and the idea that if the US doesn’t import $500 billion of goods from China, they will be $500 billion ahead. This folly has driven a string of trade decisions throughout his first term.

Beyond the presumption that advisers who know better will talk him out of it somewhere down the road, continually raising the idea is risky to US diplomacy with China, as it gives the impression that America is a very unreliable partner, potentially leading China to take rash action to protect themselves.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.