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mercoledì 4 aprile 2018

The commercial war between the USA and China

The war of duties initiated by Trump could not be limited to the action of the White house alone. After the European threats came the Chinese warnings, much heavier and with future implications able to affect the entire world economy. The measures proposed by Trump concern the introduction of duties of 25% on the importation of goods from China, worth approximately fifty billion dollars. If these measures were implemented, this would involve 1300 products manufactured in China, including telecommunications equipment and industrial automation; according to Washington, the reason is the violation of US intellectual property, that is, the USA would accuse China of producing part of its technological assets, including the most sophisticated and advanced, copying, with some variation, the American patents. The question, seen from this point of view, is difficult to solve because different American industries have moved the material production of their own products in China and it was inevitable that this has generated a productive inducement able to grow on the basis of what has been learned from collaboration with American industries. From the point of view of competition, Chinese goods cost less for the lower cost of labor, a topic commonly used by US companies, and not only, to justify the relocation. Trump has used the protection of American labor in the electoral campaign, and the only way to do so, keeping wages unaltered, is to raise customs barriers that cause a higher price for Chinese goods. The justification for the violation of intellectual property for the application of duties appears, in this context, as an excuse for the introduction of customs barriers intended, both as a functional instrument to domestic policy, and as an instrument of economic policy placed, intentionally, out of the current model of globalization, which Trump only opposes when it suits him. In the framework of international politics, it is clear that the introduction of customs duties is not only an economic maneuver, but also covers, and perhaps above all, supranational aspects of conflict. Precisely for this reason the Chinese answer is obligatory: both as protection of its products, and as an interpretation of the role of the great power in front of the international audience. Beijing's intention is to contrast similar measures with American products, but in a targeted way to strike those states that have most provided their electoral support for the election of Trump as president of the United States. According to this scheme, the states that base their economy on livestock and agricultural crops will be affected, ie those states that are part of the central band of the US federation. Outside these objectives will also include California, although it has not contributed to the election of Trump, because it is the most important US state economically and because in this territory are the main technological companies of the USA. We understand how the tension between the two countries goes beyond the economic factor and focuses on the conflictual approach Trump wanted to counter China's advance, coupled with the need to gain internal consensus. However, it will be interesting to verify how the consequences of these initiatives, first of all the fall in stock markets, will produce negative reactions, which could exceed those expected as positive. The Chinese attitude appears, however, more marked to remain, at least in these early stages, within the official context: Beijing's intention to rival the US in the face of the World Trade Organization, to challenge itself against Washington for violating the fundamental principles of the organization. The impression is that we are only witnessing the first episodes of the conflict, they are still interlocutor phases, which, however, announce the likely very dangerous developments for the world economic hold and for the general geopolitical balances.

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