In a recent interview with CNN, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro tried once again to whitewash Washington’s escalating trade offensive against China, saying the U.S. government “is using the tariff strategy brilliantly.”
Apparently, such a claim ignores the fact that Washington’s hawkish trade policy is weighing down the U.S. economy and that of the world as well.
Since it took office more than two years ago, the current U.S. administration has taken on many of its major trading partners around the world, claiming that they have been taking advantage of the United States in global free trade, although such accusations lack the most basic common sense in economics.
With an unfounded victim mentality, trade hardliners in this White House have launched a tariff war on a global scale, levying punitive duties on aluminum and steel imports from the European Union, washing machines from South Korea and Mexico, and almost all of America’s imported Chinese products. They criticized the North American Free Trade Agreement as “one of the worst trade deals ever made,” ripped it apart and coerced Canada and Mexico into signing a new trade accord that highlights America’s interests.
These white-hot trade disputes have significantly exacerbated uncertainty over the global economy, especially the financial market.
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) in July cut real global economic growth to 3.2 percent this year, 0.1 percentage point lower than its April forecast, due to the ongoing global trade tensions.
According to a survey released in August by U.S. National Association for Business Economics, some 72 percent of economists predicted that a U.S. recession would begin within the next two years.
The world economy would also fall into recession eventually, should the trade disputes between the world’s top two economies drag on. The IMF has warned that trade disputes could wipe 455 billion U.S. dollars off global gross domestic product (GDP) in 2020.
A world trade slowdown, which now seems inevitable in the long term, will stir up tumult in global market, dent consumer and investment confidence, and slow down income growth.
Besides, given the high interconnectedness of the world, where the value of trade reached some 58 percent of global GDP by the end of 2018, the international supply chains would also be shattered.
More worryingly, Washington’s trade bullyism poses a long-term and deep-rooted threat to the health and integrity of the rules-based multilateral global trading system.
Trade hawks in Washington are defying the authority of the World Trade Organization (WTO). In their eyes, global trade rules should be dictated by Washington, not under the jurisdiction of the WTO, although the international body is at the heart of the world’s current trading regime.
Such moves are “structurally catastrophic,” and finally “a system of rules is practically destroyed,” predicted Martin Wansleben, general manager of the Association of German Chambers of Industry and Commerce.
China on Sept. 2 announced that it had filed a case at the WTO against the United States following the latter’s implementation of the additional 15-percent tariffs on 300 billion dollars worth of Chinese imports on Sept. 1.
China’s fight against Washington’s assault on the existing global trade order bears global significance. It is high time for the entire international community to come together and make concerted efforts against Washington’s bullying before it is too late.