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U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden says President Trump is right to go after China's unfair trade practices, but that he is going about it the wrong way

U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden says Donald Trump is right to go after China's unfair trade practices — but that the president is going about it all wrong.Wyden

Instead of pitting the United States against China, each raising tariffs on the other's goods, the Oregon Democrat says there is a better approach.

"The first thing I would do is junk this go-it-alone approach. I'd go out and get some allies, tell them we have this problem with China cheating, and get them together," Wyden said in mid-August.

"Allies are good for two things: trade deals and they can help us stand together against China, where there is a very real problem," he said.

Among the issues: China's theft of trade secrets, its onerous requirements on foreign companies that want to do business there and its subsidies to some of its own businesses.

Wyden said Trump passed up a chance to forge an alliance with China when he shelved the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) shortly after he became president in January 2017. Six of Oregon's top 10 trading partners were part of that multinational agreement: Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Vietnam, Singapore and Mexico.

Wyden said the stakes are high for Oregon, where one of every five jobs depends on trade. In addition, Oregon's leading trade partner in 2018 was China, which received Oregon exports valued at $4.8 billion.

Goods range from farm products like hazelnuts from Yamhill County to Nike gear and computer chips from Intel from Washington County.

"I think Trump's trade policy is so incoherent," Wyden said. "It zigs and zags, sometimes 180 degrees in a matter of weeks. It is doing a lot of damage to Oregon."

Trump announced a new round of tariffs on Chinese goods — tariffs that are paid by U.S. importers and consumers, not China — then delayed some of them until after the start of the holiday shopping season. The administration also announced a 90-day reprieve for Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei Technologies to do business with U.S. companies, but it also put 46 Huawei subsidiaries on notice that U.S. companies cannot do business with them for national security reasons.


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