Friday, 19 October, 2018

Farmers still uncertain, despite Trump-EU trade deal

European stocks jump as US and EU agree to work towards 'zero' tariffs Two wildcards remain in markets
Orlando Vargas | 01 August, 2018, 07:07

This is a prudent position given that on the same day the deal was announced, some of President Trump's senior advisers believed he was on the verge of escalating the trade war with a 25 percent tariff on almost 200 billion US dollars of imported automobiles, according to The Washington Post. While they do, new USA tariffs on steel and aluminum will stay in place, along with the measures the European Union applied in retaliation, but the aim is to resolve this dispute as well.

"We agreed today.to work together toward zero tariffs, zero non-tariff barriers, and zero subsidies on non-auto industrial goods", declared the two leaders in a joint statement.

The official newspaper of China's courts, the state-run People's Court Daily, recently published a commentary with a rare candid assessment: as the United States imposes tariffs on more China exports, many Chinese firms will go bankrupt, especially private companies. Among other things, the retaliation targets agricultural exports such as soybeans, grain, fruits, and nuts.

As China's comprehensive strength increases, the ups and downs in Sino-US relations will continue. It's at home: America has been saving too little.

But many analysts are skeptical that Trump's tactics will produce such an outcome. While Trump was cheered on by his base and protectionist forces in Washington DC, the verdict of the global economic community was scathing. That would have reduced the multilateral trade deficit.

Many Republican politicians have criticized Trump's new tariffs, and the aid package that he has announced to mitigate the damage. "Everything is based in Washington and China... we have no control on that, but the markets keep going down".

Can these figures be cited to prove that the U.S. is shortchanged in its trade deals with China and China is playing a zero-sum game here with the US?

More action will be needed before it will be safe to conclude that the risk of trade war is receding, and that Trump is beginning to see the benefits of global commerce. The relative pain each will inflict on the other is hard to ascertain.

China is arguably the second biggest economy in the world with many economists claiming that it is the first. The US is simply helping China do what it has already been trying to do.

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Imposition of a high import duty by the United States has triggered a trade war-like situation with other countries such as China, Europe, India too resorting to higher tariffs.

This much is clear: if Trump's objective is to stop China from pursuing its "Made in China 2025" policy - adopted in 2015 to further its 40-year goal of narrowing the income gap between China and the advanced countries - he will nearly surely fail.

"It's not nice what they're doing", Trump said.

If a country enters a war, trade or otherwise, it should be sure that good generals - with clearly defined objectives, a viable strategy, and popular support - are in charge. China has never deliberately sought a trade surplus. Speaking on a workforce development roundtable at the Northeast Iowa Community College in nearby Peosta, Trump talked about his tax cuts, unemployment rates, the cost of prescription drugs and trade disputes. This is all good in theory, but China and US weather still remain the big wild cards.

Trump has shown how he responds when his lies are exposed or his policies are failing: he doubles down.

The Trump administration has taken several measures to force China to accept its demands.

Perhaps hope can be found in three of his other traits: his focus on appearance over substance, his unpredictability, and his love of "big man" politics. Last week he announced a face-saving deal with the European Union that is basically a promise to negotiate trade further - a process that can be done with cool heads.

Mnuchin, speaking to CNBC, also held out the prospect of re-opening talks with China if Beijing is willing to make "serious changes", as he said the European Union had indicated it was willing to do.

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