Beneath the headlines exists a plethora of similar warnings and downbeat forecasts. Also this week, analysts at ING said that world trade is heading for its worst year since the aftermath of the financial crisis in 2009, predicting a measly 0.3 per cent growth. While the level of trade would normally bounce back in 2020, “that improvement could vanish if the trade war drags on”. And it is likely to drag on. Societe Generale now believes there is a mere 45 per cent chance of a benign solution to the US-China standoff. Even more worryingly, the French bank says there is a one in four chance of a devastating all-out trade war between the world’s two biggest economies.
As Trump nears election mode his (albeit limited) focus will fall increasingly on pledges made in 2016 to restrict immigration and extract supposedly better deals from foreign countries through belligerent negotiating tactics. Read more: Trump: UK and US will reach agreement on Huawei An impulsive escalation of tariffs is the President’s go-to tactic, as recently demonstrated by rates imposed on Mexican goods just six months after the two countries agreed a trade pact alongside Canada. The 2020 election is a chance to remove Trump from office – but it is also Trump’s chance to double-down on what has rapidly become his most notorious policy.