Politica Internazionale

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lunedì 9 luglio 2018

The beginning of the commercial war

After the introduction of US tariffs, China abandons the usual diplomatic tone to attack Washington directly, through the "China Daily" government newspaper. The signal is clear: the commercial war has just begun. The accusation against the USA is that of blackmail and violation of the trade rules unilaterally, on the other hand the threats of Trump had already arrived for some time and the Chinese surprise seems surprising. If Beijing believed that the intentions of the American president were not true, he made an error of assessment, but the tones of the Chinese newspaper seem more to have the purpose of warning the United States of the retaliation, ever closer and, together, trying to earn a a sort of alliance against American arrogance, which has the European Union as its address. If Trump's objective is to favor American workers and businesses, the result will be difficult to achieve, given that the Chinese response, moreover in line with the European one, will be to respond with other duties, which will increase prices in the country. the US, worsening company balance sheets and reducing workers' purchasing power. In this Washington maneuver, one can not help but see a parallel with the exit of the United Kingdom from Europe, which is producing heavy consequences on the British economy and considerable change of opinion by the public. Trump does not seem to have reached such a low point yet, but if the effects of closing it on the market will be so negative, the next mid-term elections could prove to be a disaster for the Republican party. The Chinese action to counter the US tariffs will be of a similar sum, worth about $ 34 billion, to that suffered by Washington, which is expected to hit companies in areas where Trump has received greater electoral success. For now, China has followed the European response mode, that is to introduce symmetrical measurement duties so as not to raise the level of the confrontation; however, the White House has already planned to raise the Chinese commodity tariffs by another $ 16 billion in two weeks. As we can see, the most probable future scenario is that of an escalation of the commercial war, which can not fail to have political repercussions in terms of international equilibrium. In fact it is impossible not to think about the role of Europe in a situation that includes such a development. Brussels has also been hit by US tariffs and this has led to greater closeness with China due to the affinity that has developed on the issues of free trade. However, approaching Beijing must be treated with caution, given the undemocratic regime that exists in the Chinese country, with too many victims of repression and lack of fundamental rights. China can be a partner from the commercial point of view, with ample room for development, if we want to continue to overlook the lack of guarantees to its citizens, but it can not become anything more. On the other hand there is the historic alliance with the United States and the Atlantic Alliance, which remains a cornerstone of European defense; the removal caused by the trade war can also have repercussions on diplomatic ties but must not undermine the regime of military alliances, despite the many provocations of Trump, even if it is clear that the change in the international scene can lead to unprecedented changes. The success of nationalist and populist political formations, which are politically in agreement with the US president, could be a further factor in the development of the general picture: a weakened Europe in its central structures could choose, or could choose one of its members individually, to approach Trump through a policy of closing and opposing China and, ultimately, the whole scaffolding of the free market, in the name of a local protectionism, that is an exercise of national sovereignty interpreted with the closure towards the world. It is a possible development that the current political situation can favor but which would bring the world back to a previous situation that was believed to have been overcome. The question is whether the world economic system can withstand such a retreat without considerable social repercussions; the theme, that is, is whether the effects of a further increase in social inequalities are predicted, due to a general impoverishment caused by the ever increasing wealth accumulated in ever lower percentages of the population; because this seems to be the direction that the closure of the free market seems to be able to produce. An even worse effect of globalization than populism wanted to fight as the first enemy.

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