Once Dominant, the United States Finds Itself Isolated at G-20
NewYorkTimes, July 7, 2017
For years the United States was the dominant force and set the agenda at the annual gathering of the leaders of the world’s largest economies.
Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the host of the meeting, pointed out that most of the countries supported the Paris accord on climate change, while Mr. Trump has abandoned it.
Where previous American leaders saw their power as a benevolent force, and were intent on spreading prosperity through open markets and multilateral cooperation, Mr. Trump has portrayed himself as a nationalist, a unilateralist and a protectionist.
What recent events have underscored, though — and especially at the G-20 — is that no nation is today large or powerful enough to impose rules on everyone else. In advancing his views, Mr. Trump has alienated allies and made the United States seem like its own private island.
Nowhere was Mr. Trump’s isolation more evident than on the issue of trade. He thinks the United States has been unfairly disadvantaged by sweeping free-trade agreements like the North American Free Trade Agreement or the Trans-Pacific Partnership. Trump believes the steel industry in particular has been savaged by globalization.
Within days, he could impose restrictions and new tariffs on steel imports. Doing so would be a provocative move that could affect trade with more than a dozen major countries.
The tariffs could very well provoke a global trade war.
European officials here reacted, threatening to retaliate. “We will respond with countermeasures if need be, hoping that this is not actually necessary,” the European Commission president, Jean-Claude Juncker, said on Friday. “We are prepared to take up arms if need be.”
Targets could include American whiskey imports. “I don’t want to tell you in detail what we’re doing,” Mr. Juncker said. “But what I would like to tell you is that within a few days — we won’t need two months for that — we could react with countermeasures.”
The Italian prime minister, Paolo Gentiloni, warned that new protectionist trade measures could bring “contagion” that would slow the growth of the world economy.
But as Mr. Trump contemplates protectionism, Europe and Japan reached a landmark free trade agreement this week. Mexico and China, two of the United States’ largest trading partners, have been mulling their own deal. The world is moving ahead regardless.
Among those most on edge are economists, many of whom have been uneasy about Mr. Trump’s unorthodox views on trade because they have seen the damage from such actions before.
The United States imported 30.1 million metric tons of steel last year, making it the world’s largest steel importer, according to the International Trade Administration. Canada, Brazil and South Korea are the three biggest exporters to the United States, followed by Mexico and Turkey. China, the target of much anti-globalization rhetoric, is not such a major factor, at least not in steel.
Michael Strain, an economist at the conservative American Enterprise Institute, worries that retaliation from China and Europe to any steel tariffs would be particularly painful for American exporters and could lead to job cuts.
Industries like construction and housing would probably suffer. Many of the workers in these industries and the consumers who buy their goods are likely to be the types of moderate-income voters who backed Mr. Trump.
On Friday, Cecilia Malmstrom, the European trade commissioner, warned the Trump administration that new tariffs would face a challenge in the World Trade Organization. A similar challenge led to a rollback of tariffs imposed by President George W. Bush in 2002.
But Mr. Trump has even contemplated pulling the United States out of the World Trade Organization itself.
On climate, too, the United States — just a year ago a leading voice in favor of global action to reduce carbon emissions — is on its own path.
Здешние политиканы, «эксперты», подконтрольные ЦРУ СМ»И» нахваливают псевдодемократическую, якобы процветающую Америку.
Те, кто любит «наших американских (государственных) партнеров», «забывают» о грязных, злых уродах США. О таких, как коварный и крайне опасный мошенник, расист, лжец, неофашист и убийца Дональд Трамп. И о таких, как порочный Конгресс, кровавые милитаристы США, нацистские ФБР — ЦРУ, лживые американские СМ”И”…
Арнольд Локшин, политэмигрант из США