Frihandel i media vecka 3

Inte många svenska nyheter om frihandel denna vecka. Broderlandet Finland får bidra med en notis, de negativa effekterna av Trumps handelskrig dominerar som vanligt, och till sist en påminnelse om att det i USA även finns en extrem vänster i ytterkanten av Demokraterna. 

2019-01-16

Finska Hufvudstadbladet citerar Timo Vuori vid Centralhandelskammaren om att Mays Brexitavtal röstades ner. I Finland är man lika oroad som i Sverige för utvecklingen: 

“Ett brittiskt utträde ur EU skapar avsevärda problem för över 15 000 finländska export- och importföretag, samt för de cirka 200 finländska dotterbolagen i Storbritannien som sysselsätter 12 000 personer där.

Det säger direktören för internationella ärenden vid Centralhandelskammaren, Timo Vuori i ett pressmeddelande.

På motsvarande sätt får de drygt 300 brittiska dotterbolagen i Finland med 20 000 anställda också bekymmer.

– Ett avtalslöst brexit innebär att Storbritannien ur ett handelspolitiskt perspektiv hamnar utanför EU:s inre marknad över en natt och blir ett tredje land, som till exempel Ryssland är.

Vuori säger att den brittiska regeringen snarast bör utreda olika alternativ för att säkra en fungerande handel med EU-länderna efter den 29 mars, då Storbritannien lämnar unionen.

– Det ligger i företagens intresse i såväl Storbritannien som EU att garantera en fungerande rörlighet av varor och tjänster utan höga tullar och tröga tullformaliteter.

Vuori säger att även personalens rörlighet måste kunna ordnas flexibelt och enkelt.

– En hård brexit ligger varken i Storbritanniens eller i EU:s intresse. Marknaden skulle knappast ta illa vid sig om man inhiberade hela brexit, säger Vuori.”

2019-01-14

Washington Post. USA:s biltillverkare lider under Trump, Handelskriget gör genom ökade priser på stål och aluminium gör bilarna dyrare. Inte ens lättnader i miljökrav är särskilt bra eftersom världsmarknaden efterfrågar mer miljövänliga bilar:

“Yet just as car companies have begun putting their plans in motion, Trump’s own policies and proposals risk creating additional head winds, analysts said. Targeting the electric-car incentives could put U.S. automakers at a disadvantage when many foreign firms, such as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, are moving ambitiously to electrify their portfolio of vehicles. Meanwhile, by hiking the price of steel and aluminum, Trump’s tariffs are expected to make buying a car more expensive in the United States — which, along with rising interest rates, could suppress U.S. vehicle demand in 2019. Trump’s trade barriers cost GM and Ford up to $1 billion each last year, the companies have said.

Even Trump’s friendliest overture to the industry — a proposal to halt the toughening of emissions targets — is generating uncertainty. GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda have all argued against the proposal, saying it would invite legal challenges, complicate strategic planning and hinder the transition to electric cars.

“Certainly the auto industry has been steamrolled by Trump and all the policies ranging from proposed things in Europe to enacted things in China to the NAFTA renegotiation to steel tariffs,” said Jeffrey Osborne, an industry analyst at Cowen & Co. “It’s just been a never-ending barrage of one-off items they’re having to adapt to, and it’s an industry that’s not as flexible as, say, the computer industry or mobile phones, where you can move things around in terms of supply and production locations. It’s not something you can quickly mitigate.”

 

2019-01-13

Geoff Gilbert på den amerikanska nättidningen Truthout påminner oss om att det politiska vansinnet när det gäller handel inte är isolerat till Donald Trump och några av hans närmaste medarbetare från Republikanerna: 

““Free” trade is free only for capital owners: the plutocratic few who own and control multinational corporations. When countries enter into free trade agreements, the governments of both countries effectively agree that their laws will not favor businesses from their country over businesses from any other countries. The main way that free trade does this is by attempting to reduce all tariffs to as close to 0 percent as possible, to eliminate import quotas that countries can use to limit the amount and types of goods imported from specified countries, and to discourage countries from more directly subsidizing their own businesses.

Far from promoting freedom for everyone, “free” trade empowers multinationals from the global North to control the world political economy in two important ways. First, free trade facilitates global North multinationals to maintain the unequal trade they established with the global South during colonialism. This increases inequalities of power and wealth between global North and global South. Second, free trade empowers global North multinationals to plan the world economy alongside global South multinationals, the junior partners of the global North multinationals, and to pit working-class people in the global North and global South against one another.

Thus, free trade is the modern form that imperialism takes. Throughout US history, the US government has used military force to expand free trade throughout the world. For more than a century, US-backed military coups and US-backed military dictatorships have led to partnerships between the US government, US multinationals and local elites across the globe that are built around creating trade that concentrates wealth for multinationals. This remains a core source of violence in the world with many implications. Today, for instance, Central American refugees at the southern US border are criminalized for fleeing a history of US military coups and intervention in Central America and the neoliberal trade policies that US multinationals and local elites created in their aftermath.

In the 1950s, the Argentinian economist Raúl Prebisch and the German economist Hans Singer developed “dependency theory,” which describes the unequal terms of trade that the global North established with the global South during colonialism — the same unequal economic relationships that free trade protects today. Prebisch and Singer attacked the mainstream trade theory of “comparative advantage,” which holds that countries naturally produce the goods that they are most efficient at producing. Core to the idea of comparative advantage — and to mainstream economic theory today — is the idea that the “invisible hand” of the market guides these natural choices.

However, during colonialism, global North colonizers did not rely upon the market’s “invisible hand.” Instead, they ensured — through physical violence and use of tariffs that they still prevent global South countries from using today — that they would have a monopoly on the production of manufactured and high-tech goods, the most profitable sectors of the economy. Global North corporations sold these goods to people in their own countries and to people in global South countries, while making sure that global South corporations lacked the capacity to make such goods on their own.

The global North turned the global South into an exporter of raw materials — a position from which they are still largely unable to escape — so that they could have access to an ever-expanding supply of low-cost raw materials that they needed for manufactured goods. Global North countries, by reorganizing global South economies to become raw material exporters, also ensured access to global South markets. Throughout colonialism, and to a somewhat lesser extent today, global North corporations have been able to own and capture the profits from global South corporations that produce raw materials, in addition to owning global North corporations that produce manufactured goods.”


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