U.S. President Donald Trump "is wrong" over the trade row with China, and "seeking surplus with every trading partner is not 'winning'," "it is absurd," chief economics commentator at the Financial Times (FT) said Wednesday.
Martin Wolf, a British economics journalist, said in a signed article carried by the FT that "it is incredible that such primitive ideas rule the most sophisticated country on earth."
Wolf, also an associate editor and chief economics commentator at the FT, said that "the U.S. president believes if a country sells more goods to a trade partner than it buys, it has 'won.' He also thinks that if it buys more goods from a trading partner than it sells, it can "'win' a protectionist war, because the other side has more to lose."
"Serious economists, back to Adam Smith, would insist that seeking a surplus with every trading partner is not 'winning'," he said. "It is absurd. This is not even intelligent mercantilism, which would focus on the overall balance."
In the trade dispute with China, Wolf said, "Mr. Trump has made two characteristic mistakes. First, he has over-reached. China cannot deliver bilaterally balanced trade because it is unable to force Chinese people to buy goods they do not want," and "second, he has exaggerated U.S. power."
"If the U.S. president persists with pure bilateralism, it will not win. But it will do damage to itself, trade, the world economy and international relations," Wolf said. "Trade wars are not good. With great powers, they are not easy to win either."