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China leveraging Trump impeachment ‘desperation’ in trade talks

An impeachment inquiry of President Trump may not hit markets that hard (at least not yet), but it does pose a challenge to the administration’s policy efforts. Namely, what will happen with Trump’s trade dispute with China if Washington is tied up in an epic political imbroglio.

Given the harm Trump’s tariffs are causing for U.S.companies, consumers, and global markets, the president recognizes the benefits of reaching a trade deal with China. And the specter of impeachment could lead him to settle, just so he can declare a win.

Trump “knows it will play well, not only with the stock markets, but with the voters here in the U.S., that he’s finally resolved this long trade war, this costly trade war for Americans,” said Brett Bruen, president of the Global Situation Room and former White House Director of Global Engagement on Yahoo Finance’s “YFiPM.”

“That’s what I think Beijing is looking at now – how can we extract some of those concessions on hard issues because Trump is so desperate on trying to secure a deal,” Bruen said.

“Beijing is going to entice him with, perhaps, some splashy superficial compromises, but at the end of the day, the substance will not favor the United States in some of these hard issues we’ve been trying to resolve,” said Bruen.

President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump steps off Air Force One after arriving at Andrews Air Force Base, Thursday, Sept. 26, 2019, in Andrews Air Force Base, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

The easier concessions Trump has been able to get from China include promises to purchase more American agricultural goods such as soybeans. But there has been no real progress on addressing the tougher issues, like intellectual property theft or forced tech transfers U.S. businesses must abide by in China.

The day after House Speaker Nancy Pelosi launched the official impeachment inquiry, Trump announced the initial details of a trade deal with Japan. Both countries agreed to $40 billion worth of digital trade and hope to finalize a broader agreement in four months.

Losing significant international influence

The Global Situation Room, a non-partisan consulting firm, released a survey this week that found that 96% of former ambassadors and senior national security officials believe America has lost significant international influence under Trump. (50 diplomats took part in the survey)

“This was a group of ambassadors and other senior officials who served under Republican presidents, Democratic presidents – this wasn’t a partisan group and the fact that 96% of them say [this] was rather shocking,” Bruen said.

The bombshell allegations in the whistleblower report released on Thursday detailing Trump’s attempt to pressure Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden during a July call hasn’t helped America’s image abroad.

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