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‘A Fool’s Bargain’—Robert Lighthizer on the US-China Trade Relationship and How to Strategically Decouple

“The economic growth of China is largely a wealth transfer from the United States,” says Robert Lighthizer. “You’re transferring the wealth of our children and grandchildren and their children overseas.”

Mr. Lighthizer served as the U.S. Trade Representative in the Trump administration and also served as deputy trade representative in the Reagan administration.

In this episode, we do a deep dive into his new book “No Trade Is Free: Changing Course, Taking on China, and Helping America’s Workers.”

“Nobody practices free trade. And for sure, if you look at the great countries that run the big surpluses, they don’t have free trade. China doesn’t have it, not remotely. It’s not even capitalism. And Germany doesn’t have free trade. Europe doesn’t have free trade…It’s all just a false god. It just literally doesn’t exist,” Lighthizer says.

Is the free trade ideal actually a myth? What should the U.S. do to tackle its massive trade deficits? Why should the U.S. strategically decouple from China and what would that actually like?

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