Donald Trump may be about to fight the wrong trade war — again. Even as the US president claims to be making real progress with trade negotiations in China, the commerce department is set to give him confidential recommendations on his Section 232 auto investigations, which could allow him to use national security as cover for new tariffs on foreign vehicles. Trump has 90 days to act on them, but many insiders believe there’s a good chance he will act sooner than that and launch auto tariffs on the EU and Japan. It is hard to overstate what a disaster this would be. Trump is touting a “breakthrough” on China trade because he wants to be seen as a “dealmaker”. But this is an unconvincing feint — the tensions between the US and China are big, existential, and will last for decades. He has reason to take the economic heat off both countries: China’s slowdown has hit US companies, including Apple. Meanwhile, Trump may be about to use steel and cars as an awkward way to stumble into a fr...

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