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I’m old enough to remember when Donald Trump’s decision to tariff steel and aluminum imports from many U.S. allies was almost universally condemned outside his administration as not only unimaginably stupid and economically ignorant (as the supposed case for all tariffs) but downright heinous.

After all: These were U.S. allies that would be paying the price for Trump’s troglodyte protectionism. For decades they’d stood shoulder to shoulder with America in numerous foreign policy crises and showdowns with hostile dictatorships (or at least much of the time) and served as valuable force multipliers (even though their skimpy defense budgets prevented them from providing the United States with much concrete defense help when push came to shove, and needlessly exposed Americans to nuclear war risk). How, moreover, could relying on imported metals from friendly countries endanger U.S. national security – as the Trump administration legally needed to claim in order to slap on the trade curbs. Worse, the Trump metals levies as such left China, by far the biggest metals trade offender, untouched.

Even Trump’s own first Defense Secretary agreed on the tariffs’ cockeyed targeting. So did a fellow named Joe Biden, who during his presidential campaign last year upbraided his opponent for “picking fights with our allies” vowed to “focus on the key contributor to the problem [of a global metals glut] – China’s government.”

So although it’s been telegraphed for some weeks now, it’s still worth noting not only that since his inauguration, President Biden has kept the steel and aluminum tariffs firmly in place, but that his administration has just reached an agreement with the European Union (EU) that makes clear that the two major assumptions that drove Trump’s approach were completely correct.

First, as I’ve demonstrated repeatedly (e.g., here), the evidence is overwhelming both that global metals capacity stems not only from China’s own mammoth overproduction, but from numerous other metals manufacturing countries, and that all of these economies were working in any number of clandestine ways to make sure that most of this overcapacity was dumped into the U.S. market.

That is, they either responded to Chinese product flooding their own markets and threatening their own metals industries by ramping up their own exports to the United States; by modifying these Chinese metals slightly and then sending them state-side as their own products; or by simply permitting Chinese steel and aluminum to be transshipped through their own ports to the United States under false labels.

(This new report shows that China’s strategy of evading U.S. trade barriers has taken another mportant form”: acquiring metals production capacity in third countries – especially in the most profitable, specialty and other high-value metals segments – and using these facilities to ship to America.)

As a result, any U.S. tariffs needed to be universal to be effective – either simply to keep imports under control, or to secure foreign agreement to stop playing footsie with the Chinese. Any other approach would have left Washington continuing to play Uncle Sucker in a game of global whack-a-mole – whose latest round began when direct Chinese exports to the United States were sharply limited by tariffs put in place during the last year of the Obama administration.

Second, the Trump approach recognized that the United States boasted the leverage to achieve success, and the terms of the new agreement with the EU make clear that the former president judged the balance of economic power correctly It’s true that the deal EU saves various American industries from retaliatory tariffs. But in return for restoring these sectors largely unimpeded access to the huge total EU economy, the Europeans have accepted sharply reduced access to American customers.

A U.S. government fact sheet states that tariff-free EU steel and aluminum exports to the United States will be limited to “historically-based” volumes (which have not been specified, but which reportedly will equal only about 60 percent of the immediate pre-Trump tariff totals). Practically all attempted European shipments above that total would be subject to the exact same Trump levies that clearly kept them mostly out of the United States – at least judging from the Europeans’ fundamental complaint. (Trade mavens call such arrangements “tariff-rate quotas.”) In this respect, this EU agreement mirrors those reached by the Trump administration with countries like Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea.

The full details of the agreement haven’t yet been released, so questions remain about enforcement mechanisms – which of course matter decisively for any effort to combat secretive activity like transshipment. But because American-owned steel companies and U.S. steel unions have endorsed the deal, chances are they’ll be effective. And that’s likely to be true for the rest of his trade agenda as long as President Biden keeps going full Trump.