By Jeff McMahon

China needs natural gas. The United States has tons of it. But Donald Trump has smothered the potential for trade between the two countries, effectively preserving the trade deficit his trade war was supposed to eliminate.

That view emerged Friday among panelists at the U.S.-China Forum hosted by the University of Chicago.

“I think natural gas is an area that is lurking as a potential real problem,” said Michael Greenstone, the Milton Friedman Professor in Economics and director of the Energy Policy Institute at Chicago.

“I think China would love to stop using so much coal, and it’s been said that there’s not enough natural-gas there, and we’re just swimming in the stuff,” he said.

“So the trade war could interrupt very profitable trade between the U.S. of natural-gas-from-shale being exported to China, and I think in principle that would help China solve both its economic growth and its pollution, but the trade war could disrupt that.”

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