Is Trump about to start a trade war?

Probably not, because his tariffs are narrowly drawn, but protectionist pressures are intensifying and could become dangerous in a weaker economy.

The announcement that President Donald Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn plans to resign after apparently losing a battle over raising tariffs ratchets up concern that the White House is turning sharply toward protectionism.

The deepest fear is that the planned steel and aluminium tariffs will echo the mistake of the infamous Smoot-Hawley tariffs of 1930, which provoked a global trade war and helped fuel the Great Depression.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 09, 2018, with the headline 'Is Trump about to start a trade war?'. Print Edition | Subscribe