U.S. President Donald Trump unleashed chaos in the global trading system in 2018 with his crackdown on countries he says trade unfairly. His tariffs contributed to a deep selloff in global markets and prompted economists to slash their forecasts for trade. Trump wants to punish countries he says charge unreasonably high duties, steal American technology, subsidize industries and dump cheap products in America. The U.S. levies disrupted supply chains and raised prices for manufacturers and consumers, could crimp economic growth and may undermine the World Trade Organization, the international body that negotiates, monitors and mediates trade rules.
He routinely points to the large U.S. trade deficit, the difference between imports and exports, as a symbol of a declining manufacturing base and the loss of American might. He aims to reduce the goods-and-services gap, which totaled $566 billion in 2017, by both browbeating and enticing U.S. companies to import less and export more.