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Ghost Canyon

'Frontline: Trump's Trade War'
(DVD / NR / 2019 / PBS)

Overview: 'Frontline: Trump's Trade War' is the inside story of President Trump's gamble to confront China over trade.

Reporting from the US and China, NPR and FRONTLINE investigate what led the world's two largest economies to the brink, and the billions at stake.

DVD Verdict: The seemingly unexpected collapse of trade negotiations between the US and China in 2018 hinted that existing Sino-US tariffs may now be the new normal.

But recent data reveal that, well before talks broke down in May of that year, China-based companies had already begun bracing for the worst-case scenario.

Indeed, the latest trade numbers suggest that China has been selling Americans fewer goods like computers and auto parts — and that other countries are benefitting from taking up the slack.

What’s at stake here isn’t merely the health of China’s export-focused manufacturing sector (and the many millions of workers it employs).

For the longer the trade war wears on, the greater the risk China will lose its long-standing role as the planet’s top global manufacturing base.

And as more and more foreign investment and technology flow to other nations, China’s chances of becoming a technologically advanced, innovative economy will dim.

The backstory, however, and as we are drawn into here in this truly fascinating new documentary from PBS, is very important here.

In many cases, the trade war isn’t so much triggering a China manufacturing exodus as it is accelerating a shift in supply chains that was already well underway.

China’s working-age population began shrinking back in 2012. Wages are now nearing levels in advanced economies. And low-wage workers are getting harder to find—let alone retain.

From FRONTLINE producer Rick Young and his team and NPR correspondent Laura Sullivan, 'Trump's Trade War' takes viewers on the ground in both the U.S. and China, drawing on business and government insider accounts to offer an eye-opening look at the increasingly competitive rivalry between the two countries - a rivalry that extends well beyond just trade and tariffs. This is a Widescreen Presentation (1.85:1) enhanced for 16x9 TVs.