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Going to War Without Allies

Going to War Without Allies

“Trade wars are good and easy to win,” said Donald Trump following his announcement that the US will impose tariffs on steel (25%) and aluminum (10%).


He has heard the concerns of Speaker Paul Ryan, Defense Secretary James Mattis, heads of US companies that need affordable steel and aluminum, and many others, but Trump’s decision will stand, at least for now. The resignation of Gary Cohn as head of the administration’s National Economic Council, effective in a few weeks, will remove an important White House voice for moderation on future trade actions.

These tariffs are not about China. Canada, the EU, South Korea, Mexico, Brazil, Japan, and even Taiwan (!) send more steel to the US than China does, and Trump knows that. For now, Canada and Mexico will be exempt pending completion of the renegotiation of NAFTA, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

President Trump says the tariffs will protect US national security. “We have serious doubt about that justification,” responded the EU trade commissioner. “We cannot see how the European Union, friends, and allies in NATO, can be a threat to national security in the US.” POLITICO Europe says it has “obtained a four-page list of American imports that the EU has targeted for duties of 25 percent to retaliate against Trump’s tariffs.”

Canada has already brought a WTO case against the US on other issues. South Korea has taken the US before the WTO in response to US trade laws in place before Trump was elected, but it will use his “America First” rhetoric to bolster its case. The EU, China, South Korea, Japan and Taiwan have all demanded compensation in response to the recent US decision to impose “safeguard” duties on solar panels and washing machines.

Trade wars are good and easy to win? Here’s a better rule of thumb: Don’t go to war, any war, against everyone at once.

P.S. Yesterday, 11 countries — including Japan, Canada and Australia — signed a revised version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, an enormous trade deal that the Trump Administration has rejected.

Empathy and listening are key to establishing harmonious relationships, as demonstrated by Callista Azogu, GM of Human Resources & Organization for Nigerian Agip Oil Company (NAOC), an Eni subsidiary in Abuja. "To build trust is very difficult. To destroy it is very easy," says Callista, whose busy days involve everything from personnel issues to union relationships. She sees great potential for her native Nigeria not only because of the country's natural resources, but because of its vibrant and creative people.

Learn more about Callista in this episode of Faces of Eni.

For the world's wealthiest nations, including the United States, the rollout of COVID-19 vaccine has been rocky, to say the least. And as a result, much of the developing world will have to wait even longer for their turn. Part of the challenge, World Bank President David Malpass says, is that "advanced economies have reserved a lot of the vaccine doses." Malpass sat down with Ian Bremmer recently to talk about what his organization is doing to try to keep millions around the world from slipping deeper into poverty during the pandemic. Their conversation was part of the latest episode of GZERO World.

Saturday will mark the beginning of an historic turning point for European politics as 1,001 voting members of Germany's Christian Democratic Union, the party of Chancellor Angela Merkel, hold an online conference to elect a new leader.

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Watch more PUPPET REGIME here.

The GZERO World Podcast with Ian Bremmer. Listen now.

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