If farmers hurt by President Donald Trump’s trade war deserve government assistance, as the president has proposed, than so do Maine lobstermen, who are watching the lucrative Chinese market dry up, and the price of the steel in the traps they need rise.

And by that logic, so too do the many American manufacturers who import components and sell their goods abroad, and the construction workers who will lose their jobs as higher steel prices contract the industry.

You see where we’re going here.

President Trump’s almost blindly imposed tariffs — on goods from Canada, China and others — promise to reach deep into the U.S. economy if they are allowed to continue, taking more jobs than they create.

The $34 billion in tariffs placed on Chinese goods led that country to respond with tariffs of their own, hitting Midwest soybean producers and others in the agriculture industry hard. Trump is asking for patience, as he believes the tariffs will lead to the creation of trade agreements more favorable to the United States.

In the meantime, the president has proposed handing farmers $12 billion in government assistance. It won’t go very far even in undoing the damage to farmers, and it won’t do anything to help the other industries being hurt.


Among those is the lobster industry. China has become a major buyer of Maine lobster, but with the retaliatory tariffs imposed by China on U.S. seafood, the country will likely look toward Canada to fill that need.

“This is going to hurt everybody connected to the lobster industry,” Annie Tselikis, director of the Maine Lobster Dealers Association, told the Associated Press. “The lobsterman and lobster dealer, yes, but every single person we do business with. In Maine, that’s almost everybody.”

Rep. Chellie Pingree, D-1st District, is the co-sponsor of a bill that would allow the fishing industry to receive government assistance too. But as Pingree points out, the better course would be to drop the destructive trade war altogether.

Trump’s narrow view on trade dismisses how interconnected the world economy is now.

Manufacturers that employ thousands of Americans — for whom Trump is purportedly fighting — operate with complex supply chains that use parts from all ove the world. Disrupting the supply chain by imposing trade barriers means disrupting that business.

Companies also depend on overseas buyers. Maine lobstermen have worked hard to build their market in China, only to see it threatened. As the trade war drags on, buyers in seafood and other industries will look elsewhere. They’ll build relationships with other suppliers, and they may not come back when reality finally re-enters U.S. trade policy.


At that point, no level of government bailout will help.

There is hope that President Trump will reverse course. This week he announced a face-saving deal with the European Union that is basically a promise to negotiate trade further — a process that can be done with cool heads.

The deal shows the president will respond to criticism, particularly if it is levied by his own party, as has occurred with the tariffs and proposed farm subsidy.

However, if he changed his mind, and doubled-down on his hysterical rantings, it wouldn’t be the first time.

Agriculture, seafood and other American industries just want markets — instead of needlessly antagonistic trade wars, that’s what the president should give them.

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