Canceling South Korean Trade Deal Would Be a Mistake

View from the Lotte World Tower in Seoul, South Korea
View from the Lotte World Tower in Seoul, South Korea (Unsplash/Jeonguk Ha)

Various American media report this weekend that President Donald Trump is thinking of canceling a trade agreement with South Korea.

This may be bluster: an attempt to force the South Koreans to make concessions. It’s the way Trump “negotiates”.

But if he makes good on this threat, it would be another self-inflicted wound for American commerce and a setback for America’s strategy in East Asia. Read more “Canceling South Korean Trade Deal Would Be a Mistake”

Mixed Success for Trump at the G20 on Syria and Trade

American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6
American president Donald Trump speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel at the G20 summit in Hamburg, July 6 (Bundesregierung)

The G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany has been a mixed success for American president Donald Trump.

On Syria:

  • On the one hand, Trump negotiated a ceasefire for southwestern Syria with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin. American-backed rebels have been fighting the Russian-backed regime of Bashar Assad there.
  • On the other hand, he didn’t elicit Russia’s support for the war against the self-proclaimed Islamic State, which is Trump’s priority.

On trade:

  • On the one hand, G20 leaders conditioned open markets on “reciprocal and mutually advantageous trade” in their summit declaration and recognized the role of “legitimate trade defense instruments” — a political victory for Trump.
  • On the other hand, a threat from European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker to retaliate with EU trade sanctions appears to have persuaded Trump not to raise tariffs on steel. Read more “Mixed Success for Trump at the G20 on Syria and Trade”

Europe, Japan Send “Strong Signal” with Trade Deal

Tokyo Japan
View from the World Trade Center Building in Tokyo, Japan (Unsplash/Louie Martinez)

European and Japanese leaders have announced a landmark trade agreement on the eve of the G20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, where America’s president, Donald Trump, is expected to press his case for protectionism.

The treaty has yet to be finalized. A summit in Brussels was hastily arranged to “send a strong signal,” as the EU’s trade commissioner, Cecilia Malmström, put it earlier this week.

“We believe we should not build walls or raise protectionism,” she said. Read more “Europe, Japan Send “Strong Signal” with Trade Deal”

In Era of Trump, Europeans Become Free Traders

Paolo Gentiloni, Mariano Rajoy, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte, the leaders of Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, deliver a joint news conference in Berlin, June 29
Paolo Gentiloni, Mariano Rajoy, Emmanuel Macron, Angela Merkel and Mark Rutte, the leaders of Italy, Spain, France, Germany and the Netherlands, deliver a joint news conference in Berlin, June 29 (La Moncloa)

European leaders are preparing for a showdown on trade when they meet Donald Trump at the G20 summit in Hamburg next month.

“Whoever believes that the world’s problems can be solved by isolationism and protectionism is mistaken,” Germany’s chancellor, Angela Merkel, told her parliament on Thursday.

French president Emmanuel Macron chimed in: “If free trade is questioned by a member state then we need to address this.”

He added that he hopes “others will see reason” on issues like climate change and terrorism, which require multilateral cooperation.

Europe and the United States account for half the world’s economic output and a third of its trade. Read more “In Era of Trump, Europeans Become Free Traders”

Can Canada Resist Trump’s Offensive on NAFTA?

Justin Trudeau Donald Trump
Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau speaks with American president Donald Trump in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, February 13 (Flickr/Justin Trudeau)

NAFTA stands for the North American Free Trade Act, but President Donald Trump does not.

After campaigning on a promise to repeal the act, then adapting his position to that of merely supporting the act’s renegotiation, Trump recently announced that he would no longer tolerate the status quo arrangement for American imports of dairy and forestry products originating from Canada. Read more “Can Canada Resist Trump’s Offensive on NAFTA?”

Trump Is Not the First American Leader to Criticize German Exports

Angela Merkel Barack Obama
American president Barack Obama listens to German chancellor Angela Merkel during a meeting in the Oval Office of the White House in Washington DC, May 2, 2014 (Bundesregierung)

American president Donald Trump has reportedly chided the Germans for selling more goods and services to his country than they buy from it, calling them “very, very bad”.

“Look at the millions of cars they sell in the US. Terrible. We’ll stop it,” Trump was quoted as saying in Der Spiegel, which cited EU diplomats. (No matter that German carmakers are responsible for tens of thousands of jobs in the United States.)

Coming after Trump criticized NATO leaders for failing spend more on their defense, which came on the heels of a trip to Saudi Arabia where he promised the United States would no longer criticize the monarchy for its human rights abuses, the comments are disconcerting. Trump berates liberal democrats but cozies up to authoritarians.

He earlier praised Egyptian strongman Abdul Fatah Sisi for his war on terror, Filipino president Rodrigo Duterte for his war on drugs and complimented Russia’s autocrat, Vladimir Putin, on his “strong leadership”.

Canadian and European allies get a dressing down. Read more “Trump Is Not the First American Leader to Criticize German Exports”

China, Europe Seek Closer Ties in Era of Trump

Li Keqiang Angela Merkel
China’s premier Li Keqiang speaks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin, May 26, 2013 (Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann)

China and the European Union are stepping up their cooperation in the era of Donald Trump.

Reuters reports that the two are keen on a summit in the next few months in order to promote free trade and international cooperation.

For the Chinese, it’s about sending a sending a message to Washington that it has friends in Europe.

The Europeans seek Chinese support for international institutions like the World Trade Organization and the United Nations, which Trump has chided.

But that doesn’t mean a new great-power entente is in the works. Read more “China, Europe Seek Closer Ties in Era of Trump”

As America Turns Inward, Europe and Mexico Double Down on Trade

European Union flags
Flags of the European Union outside the Berlaymont building in Brussels, July 22, 2016 (European Commission)

The European Union and Mexico have committed to deepening their economies ties in the wake of Donald Trump’s inauguration as president of the United States.

In a statement released last week, EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmström and Mexican economy secretary Ildefonso Guajardo announced that they would hold talks in April and June to renew a 2000 trade agreement between the two sides.

The EU hopes to expand the trade deal to broaden property rights protection, lower tariffs and include public tenders as well as trade in energy products and raw materials. Read more “As America Turns Inward, Europe and Mexico Double Down on Trade”

Trump Blunders by Withdrawing from Trans Pacific Partnership

Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 9, 2015
Businessman Donald Trump gives a speech in front of the United States Capitol in Washington DC, September 9, 2015 (Joshua M. Hoover)

Donald Trump made good on his campaign promise to withdraw the United States from the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) on Monday.

It was one of his first acts as president — and a terrible mistake.

Not only is Trump robbing American companies of business opportunities in the Far East; he disappoints American allies in the region and cedes the initiative to China. Read more “Trump Blunders by Withdrawing from Trans Pacific Partnership”

In Era of Trump, Australia Looks to China for Leadership on Trade

Yoshihiko Noda Barack Obama Wen Jiabao
President Barack Obama, flanked by Prime Ministers Yoshihiko Noda of Japan and Wen Jiabao of China, attends the East Asia Summit in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, November 20, 2012 (State Department/William Ng)

Australia isn’t waiting for Donald Trump to assume office in January before recalibrating its foreign relations.

The island nation — America’s most reliable ally in the Pacific — has thrown its support behind Chinese trade initiatives now that the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) appears dead.

Steven Ciobo, Australia’s trade minister, told the Financial Times he would work to conclude new trade pacts with other countries in the region, including China’s proposed Free Trade Area of the Asia Pacific.

“Any move that reduces barriers to trade and helps us facilitate trade, facilitate exports and drive economic growth and employment is a step in the right direction,” Ciobo said.

But there is a strategic component to this as well. Read more “In Era of Trump, Australia Looks to China for Leadership on Trade”