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President Trump previewed a plan of action this morning to reduce the U.S.-China trade deficit on Twitter, saying, "China has been asked to develop a plan for the year of a One Billion Dollar reduction in their massive Trade Deficit with the United States."

By the numbers: A reduction of $1 billion would comprise just a tiny fraction of the $375.2 billion trade deficit that the U.S. had with China in 2017. That deficit has been expanding since 1985 and, in 2016 alone, it grew by over $28 billion.

Expand chart
Data: U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon / Axios
The facts
  • China's global profile grew when it was allowed to join the World Trade Organization in 2001. Membership in the WTO entitled China to the stable tariff rate enjoyed by other members.
  • Since then, Chinese exports have taken over the world. China has quickly emerged as a manufacturing powerhouse, often buying raw materials from the U.S. and other nations and exporting the finished products back to the States.
  • In 2017, the U.S. imported $505.6 billion worth of goods from China. While U.S. exports to China have grown as well, they've risen at a much slower rate.
  • Yes, but: With various U.S. economic figures — such as industrial output and exports — at or near record highs in 2017, China's rise hasn't come at the U.S.'s economic expense, per Scott Lincicome, a trade policy expert at the Cato Institute:
"We like to think of global trade as an expanding pie. Your share might decline relative to other countries, but that's fine as long as your domestic indicators are doing better than they were last year."
Where things stand
  • Trump plans to announce his steep tariffs — 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum — on Thursday. The across-the-board tariffs will not only impact Chinese exports to the United States but also will apply to close allies as well. The European Union has already announced a round of politically-targeted tariffs against the U.S. in response to Trump's trade moves.
  • Trump also tweeted about China's theft of U.S. intellectual property, which has been a continual flash point in U.S.-China relations. There had been plans to punish China with tariffs based on that threat stretching back to the Obama administration, indicating a much wider level of support for that action.
A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.
The bottom line
These tariffs may be the last moment when America gets to set the terms of engagement with China.
— UC Hastings law professor Frank Wu at a Brookings event Wednesday

Go deeper

Big Tech lobbies hard against looming antitrust bill

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Big Tech CEOs, including Apple's Tim Cook and Google's Sundar Pichai, have been jawboning lawmakers as a Senate committee takes up a key antitrust bill Thursday.

Why it matters: The bill prompting this lobbying frenzy could upend how tech's giants do business, and tech's critics see this as a "now or never" moment for Congress to check the industry's power.

Biden stock market gets Trumped

Data: Yahoo Finance; Chart: Jared Whalen/Axios

U.S. stocks markets performed worse during the first year of Joe Biden's presidency than during the first year of Donald Trump's presidency.

By the numbers: The S&P 500 rose 19.3% between the market close before Biden's inauguration and yesterday's market close, compared to a 24.1% increase for Trump during the similar period.

First look: Biden's Year One turnover

Expand chart
Data: Brookings Institution; Chart: Thomas Oide/Axios

Low first-year turnover among President Biden's senior staff marks a "return to normalcy" and a sign of stability after the Trump years, says a new Brookings Institution report reviewed by Axios.

Driving the news: The departure of five out of 66 "A-Team" officials puts Biden's departure rate as the third lowest since Ronald Reagan's presidency, above only George H.W. Bush and son George W. Bush, the report found.