Though under pressure from the Mueller investigation seemingly trying to establish a link between Russian influence on Trump and the pornstar Stormy Daniels who claims a one night stand with Donald a decade ago, Trump seems to have kicked yet another goal.
Following Trump’s pressure on China and others to bring about greater “fairness” in international trade rules, China has blinked with promises to reduce tariffs and open the economy to greater investment. The Australian’s Cameron Stewart, a critic of Trump, gets the message. Predictably, John Kehoe, the AFR’s man in Washington, called upon his fellow visceral anti-Trumpers to label President Xi’s the promises a nothing burger and empty promises. The AFR is fortunate in having, in Jennifer Hewett, a more balanced writer doing the op eds on the issue.
Another who misses out on the developments is Julie Bishop. Taking a break from attending sporting occasions with her beau, Australia’s Foreign Minister is giving a speech today at La Trobe University, in which ‘Ms Bishop will again denounce the Trump administration’s move toward a “full-scale trade war” with China while laying out a “clear-eyed” map of challenges under the federal government’s foreign policy white paper.’ Bishop herself is little more than a mouthpiece but her words are a dreadful commentary on those formulating Australian foreign and trade policy.
Trump, couches much of his rhetoric on trade in unfortunate terms that emphasise bilateral deficits and even multilateral deficits. This makes him a target for those of us who see these macro outcomes, especially the latter, as largely a function of capital inflows attracted to the US as a safe investment location and spurred on by the US budget profligacy and consequent inadequate domestic savings.
Even so, Trump points to massive imbalances in treatment of copyright and in tariff and non-tariff barriers. His actions, may have been radical but they seem to have turned around an international trade system that has been increasingly geared to tilting the balance of advantages away from the US. They also constitute a warning to the increasingly sclerotic EU (supported by residual Obamaites) with its attempts to distort trade rules so that they incorporate the Paris Treaty emission controls.