China, Europe Seek Closer Ties in Era of Trump

Li Keqiang Angela Merkel
Chinese premier Li Keqiang walks with German chancellor Angela Merkel in the garden of Schloss Meseberg, 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

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

Sydney Australia
Skyline of Sydney, Australia (Unsplash/Dan Freeman)

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”

American Leadership in Pacific at Stake If Trump Cancels Trade Pact

Barack Obama Park Geun-hye
Presidents Barack Obama of the United States and Park Geun-hye of South Korea walk in the garden of the Blue House in Seoul, April 25, 2014 (White House/Pete Souza)

One of the first victims of Donald Trump’s election victory in the United States could be the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP), a comprehensive trade agreement that the outgoing president, Barack Obama, had hoped to enact in the waning days of his administration.

Many Republicans in the Senate, and quite a few Democrats, support free trade in principle and understand the strategic value of the pact.

But they may balk at ratifying the treaty now that Trump, who campaigned explicitly on an anti-trade platform, is two months away from the presidency. Read more “American Leadership in Pacific at Stake If Trump Cancels Trade Pact”

What Did Walloons Get from Resisting Canada Trade Pact?

The Socialist-led regional government of Belgium’s French-speaking south, which had stalled ratification of a European trade pact with Canada, agreed to support the treaty after all on Thursday.

The Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) between Canada and the European Union will itself not change.

But the Belgians do ask for a four-page addition to the 1,600-page treaty, which must be endorsed by all four of Belgium’s regional parliaments as well as the 27 other EU member states before the full accord can come into force. Read more “What Did Walloons Get from Resisting Canada Trade Pact?”

The Politics of Wallonia’s Resistance to Canada Trade Deal

Regional legislators in the south of Belgium are persisting in their opposition to a European free trade accord with Canada.

I reported here earlier this year that a majority of lawmakers in French-speaking Wallonia are against the treaty, which proposes to eliminate tariffs on almost all goods and services traded between Canada and Europe. The pact is projected to raise transatlantic trade by more than €25 billion per year.

The Walloons worry that European countries will be pressured into weakening their environmental standards and labor laws as a result of the treaty. (Fears that are overblown.)

But there is also a political dimension to their resistance. Read more “The Politics of Wallonia’s Resistance to Canada Trade Deal”

Gabriel’s Bet Pays Off: Party Approves Canada Trade Deal

Sigmar Gabriel Angela Merkel
German party leaders Sigmar Gabriel and Angela Merkel walk to a news conference in Berlin, June 29, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

Members of the German Social Democratic Party voted in favor of a European Union trade agreement with Canada this week, handing their leader, Sigmar Gabriel, a much-needed victory.

The far left and youth wing of the party had risen in opposition to the pact, which was seen as a template for a similar trade deal with the United States.

Gabriel, who also serves as Germany’s economy minister, disputed that and said trade talks with the United States have “de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it.” Read more “Gabriel’s Bet Pays Off: Party Approves Canada Trade Deal”

Gabriel Sacrifices TTIP to Save Trade Deal with Canada

Sigmar Gabriel Angela Merkel
German party leaders Sigmar Gabriel and Angela Merkel walk to a news conference in Berlin, June 29, 2015 (Bundesregierung)

German economy minister Sigmar Gabriel set off alarm bells this weekend when he said European trade talks with the United States have “de facto failed, even though nobody is really admitting it.”

The European Commission, which is negotiating the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) on behalf of the European Union’s 28 member states, rejected Gabriel’s assertion. A spokesperson said, “The ball is rolling right now and the commission is making steady progress in the ongoing TTIP negotiations.”

But other trade ministers shared the German’s skepticism. Read more “Gabriel Sacrifices TTIP to Save Trade Deal with Canada”

Trump Supporters Haven’t Been Hurt by Immigration or Trade

Oakland California port
Port of Oakland, California (iStock)

One theory of Donald Trump’s popularity has been turned on its head. Gallup’s Jonathan T. Rothwell argues in a working paper that the businessman’s voters are not in fact motivated by any disproportionate impact from immigration and trade.

Rothwell bases his analysis on interviews Gallup conducted with more than 87,000 American voters, including Trump supporters and Trump opponents. He then compared support for Trump to various other indicators, including proximity to the Mexican border (which Trump has famously promised to wall off), the share of manufacturing in local employment, educational attainment and racial segregation.

Some of his findings confirm widely-held beliefs. Trump’s voters are older than the general electorate and more likely to be retired; more male, more white, less likely to hold a college degree and more likely to work, or have worked, in a blue-collar profession.

But their average household income is actually higher than the general population’s and they are more likely to be self-employed than unemployed. Labor force participation is lower among Trump supporters, but not after adjusting for age.

This shouldn’t come as a surprise altogether. The website FiveThirtyEight previously reported that Trump’s supporters on average earn more than the average median household, belying the notion that they are working class. Read more “Trump Supporters Haven’t Been Hurt by Immigration or Trade”