New poll results show that the US public backs revoking China’s PNTR status, immediate economic consequences be damned, and markets should take heed. Plus: Nord Stream sabotage, the LME considers banning Russian metals, Chinese battery and EV firms are snapping up global lithium supply (from the very players trying to mitigate supply chain dependence), and the US needs to step up gas production.
This week’s big story is from us: A July 2022 poll sponsored by Force Distance Times found that the plurality of likely US voters favor ending China’s Permanent Normal Trade Relations status, and 2-1 support among Republicans – all at the height of inflation. This aligns with a broader anti-China shift in US public opinion. But the PNTR findings are remarkable, even surprising, because they suggest that the anti-China shift holds even when it comes with economic consequences, and amid economic turmoil at that. As such, these poll results underscore the political as well as strategic incentive to address China’s PNTR status – a move that would have tremendous, and currently unacknowledged, market implications.
PNTR, previously called Most Favored Nation, status is a designation granted by the US as a part of free trade. The receiving nation is awarded all trade advantages granted any other nation. Washington gave China PNTR status in 2000 so that it could join the World Trade Organization, based on the assumption that doing so would, as President Bill Clinton put it, make the US richer, China freer, and the world more peaceful. The opposite happened: Free trade with China facilitated the hollowing out of US industry, Beijing’s distortion of international markets, and its domestic authoritarian stranglehold.
These realities have been clear for decades – and to leaders from across the political spectrum. In 2005, Senator Bernie Sanders led an effort to repeal China’s PNTR status; in 2021, Senators Tom Cotton, Jim Inhofe, and Rick Scott introduced a bill to do the same. What has been less clear is where public will stands. The immediate, conventional response to any proposal to revoke China’s PNTR status is that it would be too expensive; that the American consumer wouldn’t stand for it. But Force Distance Times’s poll found that the American voter supports revoking China’s PNTR status, even if that risks exacerbating short-term inflation and supply chain pressures.