02 June 2018

A "trade war" in everything but name

As the EU announced retaliatory tariffs, a representative offered some diplomatic doublespeak:
The commissioner said that despite the EU's "rebalancing" action, the two sides were not in a trade war. "What we are in is a very difficult situation," Ms Malmstrom said.
The article continues:
Ms Malmstrom said the EU would challenge the move at the World Trade Organization (WTO) but that tariffs on US imports were necessary as "we cannot just take these tariffs and stay silent"...

UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the 25% levy on steel was "patently absurd", adding: "It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit-for-tat trade dispute with our closest allies." Gareth Stace, head of trade body UK Steel, said the tariffs were "no way to treat your friend" and called on the government to safeguard the industry's 31,000 jobs...

Opposition to the US tariffs was also voiced by prominent Republicans. House Speaker Paul Ryan, the most influential Republican in Congress, said the move "targets America's allies when we should be working with them to address the unfair trading practices of countries like China"...
Posted today because last night commentary by Mark Shields and David Brooks on the PBS Newshour addressed this topic quite frankly:
  • David Brooks:
    Well, trade tariffs are almost always a bad idea, because it seems good, oh, let’s protect our industry. But the other side gets to do the same. And so you end up just hurting each other, which is — we’re now well down that spiral of hurting ourselves.

    But I think what strikes me is Donald Trump’s capacity or incapacity for relationship. Most of us, when we have a relationship, it’s built on trust, predictability, reciprocity. And we are friends with Canada. We are friends with Europe. We are friends with Mexico. And we ever — does he ever have a relationship built on trust, reciprocity and predictability?

    The exact opposite. And so we are treating our friends like enemies, which is bad for our relationships. It’s also just bad for our economy. And so he just has a mentality that sees the world as me and enemies. And sometimes that’s OK. If he wants to treat Iran and North Korea like an enemy, that’s fine.

    But when you’re dealing with your friends, your employees, the people around you, to treat everyone like an enemy is just ruinous. And I think this is not going to destroy the economy, but it’s just a bad way for America to be in the world.

  • Mark Shields:
    Every president imposes his values upon the country at some point, either consciously or unconsciously, and sometimes permanently.

    And Donald Trump is a man without friends, whatever anybody says. Any biographer could not find a friend. He doesn’t understand the relationship like that of the United States and Canada. Canada has been at the United States’ side at every major conflict, at every major international agreement. It’s been there. And the idea of making Canada hostile, the object of the scorn, is just — is just unacceptable. It’s not how you treat your friends. That is not how you forge alliances. It is not how you sustain an alliance.

    And I can understand the feeling toward China; but China, if anything, has been a favorite. I mean, where did the president make his greatest effort, to save jobs in China for ZTE after our intelligence forces said it was a security risk to the United States in what they have been doing and trading with Iran, against the protocols?

    So, I mean, this is a — unpredictability may be very interesting in the real estate business. It’s, quite frankly, reckless and dangerous in international relations, especially with those allies.


  1. It's fun to see what US products the foreign tariffs are being slapped on . Canada is targeting stuff they have themselves such as meat and maple syrup, hoping to shift demand from US products to identical Canadian products, and giving Canadians an option to avoid paying the tariffs.

    The EU, in contrast, is targeting products from major Republican Congressional leaders. Cranberries from Wisconsin, bourbon from Kentucky.

    Count on on the Dutch pointing out to the Canadians that their cheese just got a lot cheaper than American cheese from Wisconsin due to CETA, the Canadia-EU free trade deal.

    Personally, I would suggest to Canadian and European leaders to make sure that Trumps golf courses in their countries get some extra inspections in the coming weeks. You know, labor inspection, environmental inspection, tax audit, etc.

  2. "Canada has been at the United States’ side at every major conflict, at every major international agreement." They wouldn't even send our draft dodgers back during Viet Nam.

    I think Trump is right on this one. We've been in a trade war with the rest of the world for the past 50 years except we haven't been fighting back. You can't be running trillion dollar trade deficits for decades on a level playing field.

    1. trump is a Vietnam war draft dodger. claimed his legs were so bad he couldn't serve, he could still play tennis though. then he has the gall to insult Vietnam war heroes, what a p. o. s.

    2. You can't be running trillion dollar trade deficits

      The US has a trade surplus with Canada.

  3. How does Canada’s withholding of dodgers decades ago affect their status via a vis the USA overall? To what extent does the relative population size between Canada and the USA impact your opinion about the nature of the deficit?


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