There is a reality about tariffs that few people know. The United States and every other country has hundreds, even thousands of tariffs and trade barriers that are in place and well defended by powerful political interests.
The great value of the WTO was that it created a mechanism for any country or group of countries to protest specific offensive trade barriers and gave the complainant's a vehicle for retaliating.
Canada and the U.S. have similar dairy barriers but neither is willing to fight. The list of barriers outside of products is even more extreme and apply to investments, financial instruments, royalties and finances. Copyright and intellectual protections is an even bigger quagmire.
So when there is talk about trade wars and trade fights, note these are only ‘talks’. There is infinite room to negotiate between nations.
There is an entirely separate matter that is closely tied to the issue of trade and tariffs. I have always accepted the spoon fed line I got in economics that freer trade is desirable. The argument is always based on David Ricardo. Pure theory, no reality.
I’ve read the NAFTA agreement but didn’t waste my time on the TPP. NAFTA had so many detailed rules about labor issues, environmental restrictions and health-medical exceptions that it was impossible to know what the effects were.
In the most outrageous section, there was to be a special highway between Canada and Mexico for direct trade. But the Teamster’s Union made sure that such a freetrade highway never came into existence. For twenty years they blocked all Mexican trucks, as ‘unsafe’, even though all the trucks were new American trucks.
So, looking at the current vastly overblown discussion of trade, keep in mind it is all a battle of special interests screwing each other, with little benefit for ordinary consumers.