President Donald Trump once declared trade wars were easy to win.
So far, it has not gone so well.
The President ended virtually all trade agreements with every ally the United States in the Americas, Europe and Asia plus with non-allies like China. While the results have been devastating for manufacturing and farming in the United States, it has also fractured long-standing relationships with members of NATO and neighbors in North America.
To that end, when Secretary of State Mike Pompeo met with the Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte in Rome, Italy, Italian journalist Alice Martinelli handed Pompeo a wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano.
"I got you a present. The prime minister knows what I'm talking about. This is Parmigiano-Reggiano. It's what we make best in Italy. It's something our families make with the heart every day."
Per BuzzFeed News, Prime Minister Conte reportedly said in Italian:
"Let me do it. [I'm] the prime minister. This is not how Italy defends itself."
As she was being taken away by security, Martinelli said:
"Take it to Mr. Trump, please, and tell him that we make it from the heart. We make it from the heart!"
Real Parmigiano-Reggiano is available from only one region of Italy, Reggio-Emilio, and is still made largely by hand. It costs, before increased tariffs, around $25 per pound depending on the number of years it has been aged.
Trump recently announced a plan to levy tariffs against the specialty foods available from only limited sources like champagne from France and cheeses from across Europe.
According to the Financial Times:
"Apart from Italian food, many other delicacies from across the continent—such as French Roquefort and champagne, Irish whiskey and German pork sausages—are also in the line of fire along with manufactured products such as table knives, ceramics, sweaters and suits. Aircraft and helicopters, as well as certain aerospace parts directly related to the Airbus case—are also on the roster."
The President has faced criticism over his lack of understanding regarding trade.
Trump characterizes trade partnerships in terms of winners and losers where only the United States should be the winner or all things should be equal. But larger populations and economies will consume more than smaller ones.
Regardless, Pompeo's gift of cheese drew attention online.
As Trump's trade wars escalate and American consumers, workers, manufacturers and farmers pay the price, the plan to win the war with more tariffs seems ill advised. Perhaps set trade agreements are the answer?
Like all the ones Trump destroyed to start his trade wars.
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