The long-standing tensions between the United States and China are reaching a boiling point amidst the current battles over trade. Trump's Trade War investigates the factors that continue to plague the promise of productive negotiations between the two nations, and how excessive tariffs are likely to affect citizens both in American and abroad.
One of President Trump's signature campaign promises involved a more balanced trade relationship with China. To be certain, he stated, an imbalance has long existed in the trade markets between the U.S. and China, but previous political administrations had approached the issue with extreme caution or outright inaction.
Believing he can provoke a level playing field with overtly aggressive tactics, Trump has enforced a series of highly restrictive tariffs on many of the global power's key imported goods. China, under the direction of President Xi Jinping, has retaliated with tariffs of their own.
While Trump's supporters were initially optimistic on the President's tough stance, many are just beginning to feel the burdens of these tariffs on their own livelihoods. Industries like steel, manufacturing, agriculture and technology are feeling the squeeze of increased costs and dwindling supplies. These dilemmas, in turn, are starting to migrate to the everyday consumer.
Will these punishing tariffs ultimately inspire more fair-minded trade policies between the two superpowers, or will they lead to the destruction of entire industries and the crippling of the American economy? It's a high-wire act played out on a global stage, and deep divisions remain as to which side is more likely to triumph in the end.
The filmmakers attempt to piece together the potential endgame as they travel to various factories, and consult figures on the inside of this debate, including former Trump adviser Steve Bannon and former economic advisor Gary Cohn. Viewers receive a well-informed and rounded portrait of the merits and pitfalls of constrictive tariffs, and how they could conspire to impact the lives of citizens in both countries.
A collaboration between the PBS series Frontline and National Public Radio, Trump's Trade War looks beyond the empty rhetoric to find the real human costs of this standoff.