Frihandel i media vecka 14


Dagens stora nyhet är förstås Trumps möte med Kinas president Xi Jinping. Reuters rapporterar:

”The leaders of the world’s two biggest economies are to greet each other at the president’s Mar-a-Lago retreat in Palm Beach, Florida, late in the afternoon and dine together with their wives, kicking off a summit that will conclude with a working lunch on Friday.

White House officials have set low expectations for the meeting, saying it will set the foundation for future dealings.

Trump promised during the 2016 campaign to stop what he called the theft of American jobs by China and rebuild the country’s manufacturing base. Many blue-collar workers helped propel him to his unexpected election victory on Nov. 8 and Trump wants to deliver for them.

The Republican president tweeted last week that the United States could no longer tolerate massive trade deficits and job losses and that his meeting with Xi ”will be a very difficult one.”

Trump, a former real estate magnate, is still finding his footing in the White House and has yet to spell out a strategy for what his advisers called a trade relationship based on ”the principal of reciprocity.”

”I don’t expect a grand bargain on trade. I think what you are going to see is that the president makes very clear to Xi and publicly what we expect on trade,” a U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

U.S. labor leaders say Trump needs to take a direct, unambiguous tone in his talks with Xi.

”President Trump needs to come away from the meeting with concrete deliverables that will restore production and employment here in the U.S. in those sectors that have been ravaged by China’s predatory and protectionist practices,” said Holly Hart, legislative director for the United Steelworkers union.”


New York Times skriver om Trumps besatthet av underskottet i USA:s handelsbalans och varför det bygger på en missuppfattning:

”The only thing one can say with certainty is that the deficit reflects how Americans have consumed more than they have been willing to save, purchasing from foreigners who have in turn invested in the United States. To the degree that this is a problem — and opinions vary — most economists suggest that it is best addressed with tax policies and incentives to save, rather than by impeding trade.

The American trade deficit with the world contracted sharply in 2008 and 2009, but this was not the result of a sudden resumption of old-school saving. It reflected a cratering of consumer spending in the midst of the Great Recession. Calling that progress would be like applauding a nation gripped by famine for limiting its intake of saturated fats.

But if trade deficits do not lend themselves to certain conclusions in the realm of economic policy, they have served as highly useful political fodder. Politicians use trade deficits — money departing the nation! — as a handy, if flawed, explanation for why paychecks are inadequate.

Back in the 1980s, it was Japan that played the boogeyman in the American political conversation, the goliath believed to be gobbling up American prosperity with every Sony Walkman it sent toward American shores. More recently, China has assumed that role.

Now, with Mr. Trump in the White House, much of human civilization has seemingly been cast as the predator class — Germany, Mexico, China, willfully fleecing Americans through a series of trade deals extended by a Washington elite too clueless to fight them.

Liberalized trade has proved punishing for lower-skilled factory laborers clustered in the American South and Midwest. Entire industrial communities have been upended by joblessness, mass foreclosure and attendant ills like substance abuse, domestic violence and depression.

But trade has proved a boon to bankers, executives and multinational corporations that harness low-wage labor in distant lands to make their products. Much of Walmart’s business model was built on a reliance on Chinese factories. American consumers have grown accustomed to low prices for clothing, shoes and other goods.

None of this action gets captured in narrow obsessions over trade deficits.”


The Sydney Morning Herald skriver om att EU och Australien är på väg mot ett frihandelsavtal:

”Australia is a step closer to a free trade deal with the European Union, after finally reaching agreement on what such a deal might cover on Thursday.

The so-called ”scoping study”, a prelude to formal negotiations, has been delayed several times after it was initially expected late last year.

The hold-up was put down to internal debate within the EU, where such deals have recently met stiffer resistance.

On Thursday afternoon, Australian time, the EU Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmstrom and Australia’s Trade Minister Steven Ciobo spoke on the phone and formally agreed on the scope and ambition of a future FTA.

After the call Ms Malmstrom tweeted she was ”looking forward to receiving a mandate from MS [Europe’s member states] so that we can start negotiating soon with this very important friend and partner”.

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