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President Trump's trade war with China won't bring back the jobs lost from the trade deficit with China, according to Robert Scott, a senior economist at the left-leaning Economic Policy Institute, whose work Trump cited on the campaign trail and during his presidency.

Expand chart
Chart: Economic Policy Institute; Chris Canipe/Axios

Why it matters: Here's an example of the trade debate's complexity. Some economists who agree with Trump that unfair trade has hurt U.S. workers don't think his tariff response will reverse the damage.

U.S. jobs have been impacted, Scott says in a new report, because "imports from China have soared while exports to China have increased much less.” In some regions of the U.S., the manufacturing sector is not growing as much as it could “if new factories were opening and existing plants were hiring more workers,” thanks to more production of goods in China, not the U.S.

  • China has to stop weakening the yuan, which makes Chinese exports less expensive for U.S. consumers, Scott told Axios. (In a recent report, the Treasury Department did not call out China as a currency manipulator, despite Trump's repeated accusations.)

Trump campaigned on the promise to bring manufacturing jobs back. Considering jobs in this sector have been on the upswing, he may claim some success. But Scott told Axios that tariffs, which could potentially raise costs for factories, won't be the reason for total revival of the industry.

The other side: Mark Perry, a scholar at conservative think tank American Enterprise Institute, says factory jobs have been declining since the 1940s, way before China entered the WTO, and technology is to blame, not trade.

  • "Those factory jobs ain’t ever comin’ back, no matter what Trump does," Perry said.

Go deeper:

Go deeper

10 hours ago - World

Maximum pressure campaign escalates with Fakhrizadeh killing

Photo: Fars News Agency via AP

The assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the architect of Iran’s military nuclear program, is a new height in the maximum pressure campaign led by the Trump administration and the Netanyahu government against Iran.

Why it matters: It exceeds the capture of the Iranian nuclear archives by the Mossad, and the sabotage in the advanced centrifuge facility in Natanz.

Scoop: Biden weighs retired General Lloyd Austin for Pentagon chief

Lloyd Austin testifying before Congress in 2015. Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Joe Biden is considering retired four-star General Lloyd Austin as his nominee for defense secretary, adding him to a shortlist that includes Jeh Johnson, Tammy Duckworth and Michele Flournoy, two sources with direct knowledge of the decision-making tell Axios.

Why it matters: A nominee for Pentagon chief was noticeably absent when the president-elect rolled out his national security team Tuesday. Flournoy had been widely seen as the likely pick, but Axios is told other factors — race, experience, Biden's comfort level — have come into play.

Updated 12 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: WHO: AstraZeneca vaccine must be evaluated on "more than a press release."
  2. Politics: Supreme Court backs religious groups on New York COVID restrictions.
  3. World: Thailand, Philippines sign deal with AstraZeneca for vaccine.
  4. Economy: Safety nets to disappear in December Black Friday shopping across the U.S., in photosAmazon hires 1,400 workers a day throughout pandemic.
  5. Education: National standardized tests delayed until 2022.