As I write this I am attending the 2019 Policy Summit put on by the Greater North Dakota Chamber of Commerce.

The first panel this morning was about trade and tariffs, and while the discussion was illuminating, I can’t help but feel that an important part of the debate was missing from it.

The panel was fairly stark in their opposition to President Donald Trump’s trade war with China. “I just know that trade wars have never worked,” Bob Sinner, president of Identity Ag Processing and a member of the U.S. Soybean Export Council Advisory Board, told the audience.

“There is a better tool we have available to us…it’s called free trade agreements,” Thomas Shorma of WCCO Belting in Wahpteon said.

These are business people who engage in international trade. They have been heavily impacted by the trade war. It’s understandable that they want the war resolved and favorable trade conditions restored.

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I want that too. I think most of us do. But there’s a dimension to the fight with China that wasn’t mentioned during the panel discussion. In fact, it doesn’t seem to get mentioned very often when we talk about it. Not even the Trump administration, which could probably benefit from deploying the argument, talks about it much.

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