In a rather hidden article about the trade war between the USA and China (“China delays license applications for US firms in tariff battle”) in the Sept. 11 edition of the Star, we are reminded once again what is really at stake in this bitter, brutal, no-win fight over international political and economic relations.
The U.S. stands to lose big time, not only because American firms suddenly face much higher hurdles to gain access to the Chinese market, but much more so because we as a trading partner have lost many friends in the world and have brazenly told everyone engaged in trade with us that they must submit to our demands or simply go away.
That’s exactly what is happening at the very moment: New trading contracts are now in place between the European Union and Japan (EPA), and between Canada and the EU (CETA), leaving us out in the cold. We might regain some portion of the international trade back in the future, maybe under another president, but all previous partners have become wary about us as the big bully. Canada, which is our second biggest trading partner, suddenly perceives us as threatening and is looking for new markets in Europe and Asia.
There are many alternatives to our traditional economic dominance, as China is now demonstrating, having successfully established their yuan as a currency to buy oil, such as from Iran or Angola, which will threaten the U.S. economy even further, especially in light of our national debt of $20 trillion-plus owned largely by foreign (e.g., Chinese) banks. Recently, the European Central Bank announced that it has included the yuan into its foreign exchange reserve, which ultimately could topple the giant greenback and hurt everyone’s wallet in the U.S.
Such global issues might not be of great concern for the ordinary (Republican) voter, but the slogan “Make America great again,” which resonated so powerfully among conservatives in 2016, makes us pause and question the astuteness of such braggadocio.
No one likes to work with an American bully, but that’s the new aggressive mantra pursued by our government. So far, our military and the global role of the dollar worldwide allow us to assume such a stance, but this is, unsurprisingly, motivating our allies and friends to look for alternatives. We live in a global economy, and if U.S. farmers will no longer be able to sell their soybeans to China because Argentina and Brazil have taken over that business for good, and if U.S. manufacturers can no longer purchase basic parts for their production from Chinese firms, costs will rise for sure, and most of us in this country will suffer. This is not doomsday mongering, but basic economics, and every American ought to understand that we are not alone in this world and need our trading partners.
The issues are not how to force the Chinese market to open up to more American goods or to accept fairer trade deals, as important as those certainly are. The real issues are to work toward the creation of a global market where America stands really tall because of its good products and services, and especially because of our trustworthiness and reliability as partners.
It is easy to make enemies but hard to make friends. This message should be firmly in the mind of the Trump government. Stop bullying, act like an adult, and communicate constructively for once.