What are the secrets of US President Donald Trump’s trade wars, first with his neighbours and now with China? There are several.First, the wars are likely to make almost no difference. The US is in talks with China and both sides said they’d made good progress in the past week. The negotiations follow the ballooning of the US deficit, which is now close to the record high of 2003-2008. In 2017 the US trade deficit with China was $375bn, with imports outgunning exports four to one.Last year Trump slapped import tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminium, which took effect in July and affected imports worth $34bn, about 10% of total imports. In retaliation China stopped buying US lentils. In September 2018 the US, Canada and Mexico signed a new North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta), though it is yet to be ratified.So that would mean the US’s trade balance is smaller, right? Not so much. The US trade deficit did fall in early 2018, but then jumped up again. Trade is ruled by mo...

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