The news is filled with stories about President Trump and his predecessors imposing sanctions on other countries, their officials, and other prominent persons. But the media rarely spells out exactly what these sanctions are, the intermediaries who enforce them, the impacts they have on innocent civilians – women, men and children – how they are countered or evaded, and whether they fulfill or undermine their diplomatic, military, or economic purposes.
Less than a year after JSW Steel (USA) Inc. lauded U.S. metal tariffs for aiding the steel industry, the company is suing because it’s not exempted from the levies. The producer says the Commerce Department wrongfully denied waivers for steel-slab raw materials, forcing the steelmaker to pay tens of millions of dollars in tariffs. It relies on imports of these materials from India and Mexico because the U.S. doesn’t produce steel slab of sufficient quality or quantity, JSW said in its complaint.
The first reports emerging from the G20 meeting in Buenos Aires today, December 2, 2018, are that Trump and Xi have agreed to put their trade war on hold, a kind of ‘trade war armistice’, at least for the next 90 days. Trump entered into his meeting this past weekend with China’s president, Xi, having imposed $50 billion in tariffs at 25% on China goods imports last July, to which another $200 billion was added thereafter. Tariffs on the $200 billion were set at 10%, but were scheduled to rise to 25% on January 1, 2019. Before the US November elections, Trump further threatened to add a further $267 billion if China continued to refuse to meet with the US.
The tariffs on imported solar panels imposed by the Trump administration six months ago have done little to dampen the booming solar market in the United States. Company executives and industry analysts say that the effects of the tariffs—increased prices for installations that could depress demand for solar projects and lead to thousands of job losses—have largely been cancelled out by other factors. Many developers had stockpiled cheap panels in anticipation of the import fees. China slowed the pace of domestic installations, creating a surplus of cheap panels that could spill into global markets. And U.S. consumers have a big incentive to install solar panels in the next 18 months, before U.S. tax incentives begin to phase out. So far, there's not enough data to tell how much the import fees are altering project costs, although it is clear that there has not been a dramatic shift.
Ronald Reagan told us that markets are good, government is bad, and we should let free markets solve all our problems. Winners will prosper, and gains will trickle down to workers and communities. At the global level, this meant free trade policy that blurs national boundaries, and merges or integrates our economy into the global economy. This approach shifts power in favor of global corporations, while reducing policy space for governments, workers, communities, and the environment. China has never accepted our free-trade free-market model. Zhang Xiangchen, China’s ambassador to the WTO, made this clear a few days ago. “China has been vigorously exploring a road of market economy, which suits China’s own national situation and circumstances, and we have made remarkable progress in this endeavor.
President Trump’s recent announcement that he intends to impose a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum is not a new or effective strategy for reviving American manufacturing. George W. Bush imposed tariffs on steel in 2002 and quietly removed them after only 18 months. Protectionist measures in a capitalist economy of global “free” trade are not adequate tools for building a sustainable US infrastructure and improving the lives of workers. What American workers need is not partial half-measures, but a trade and industrial policy that is based on international cooperation, respect for workers’ rights, and environmental sustainability — one that raises living standards for workers across industries and across borders through investment in infrastructure, jobs and social programs.
The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) was signed this Thursday, March 8th by the eleven countries that remained in negotiations after the United States abandoned the deal. The agreement, re-marketed as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), will set standards in more than 13 percent of the global economy, a total of $10 trillion in gross domestic product. The TPP’s signing shows that the trade model the Obama administration had sought will remain in the global panorama and that the signing governments of Asia and the Pacific still have hope that the United States could potentially join. The lobbying effort for the United States to reconsider joining the TPP has continued amongst legislators and industry leaders alike.