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People walk in front of BYD Auto company and Autotorino store in Milan, Italy, March 20, 2024.

REUTERS/Claudia Greco

It’s about to be “Trade War Summer” in Europe!

The EU is expected to slap tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles this week, citing a months-long investigation into Beijing’s subsidies for EV manufacturers.

The move comes amid wider EU-China trade tensions over green technologies like EVs, solar panels, and batteries, where China has become a major low-cost producer whose exports often undercut those of Western competitors.

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Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and US President Joe Biden face a summer of discontent.

A summer of discontent

Facing elections and down in the polls, Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau have a lot of bogeys on their radar, but three are starting to stand out: the election call in Britain, Labor strife in Canada, and the rising and potentially self-defeating political popularity of tariffs.

1. Rishi Sunak’s Soggy Snap Election Surprise: Comeback Miracle or Cautionary Tale for Incumbents?

After 14 years of Conservative rule in Britain, Labour now has a chance to take the helm. Beleaguered Prime Minister Rishi Sunak held a rain-drenched (read: pathetic) fallacy of a media conference yesterday to announce a surprise July 4 general election. Why did he do it? Most analysts expected Sunak to drag it out until late fall, giving himself at least two years as PM – 14.8 times longer than the wilting 49-day head-of-lettuce term of Liz Truss, who Sunak replaced in 2022. They were wrong. The Tories are down 20 points in the polls, so when Sunak saw inflation finally fall to the target rate of 2.3% – a rare win – he reckoned it wouldn’t get much better in the months ahead. A summer election could mean low voter turnout, which usually helps the incumbent.

Joe Biden and Justin Trudeau are watching closely. Both are also incumbents facing low polling numbers and an electorate that believes (facts be damned) that things are worse than ever. If Sunak can somehow turn it around – and that’s a big “if” – it would answer a core question: Can falling inflation rates reinflate incumbent popularity? Will people ever believe things are getting better? Biden and Trudeau hope so.

Sunak’s July 4 election will likely end in ashes, not fireworks, for British conservatives, but Biden and Trudeau will pick through the coals and see what they can learn from the fire.

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Canada's Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland takes part in a press conference in Ottawa, Canada, on Jan. 29, 2024.

REUTERS/Blair Gable/File Photo

Canada’s threatened tax on tech giants risks trade war

Canadian Finance Minister Chrystia Freeland plans to unveil the federal budget on April 16, a release that will be keenly watched north and south of the border. Big Tech companies, in particular, will be looking for clues about when Canada will implement its long-promised digital services tax.

Justin Trudeau’s cash-strapped Liberal government hopes to raise up to $2.5 billion over five years by imposing a 3% tax on companies like Alphabet, Meta, Uber, Amazon, and Airbnb. First promised in the 2021 budget, the Trudeau government said it would implement the tax on Jan. 1, 2024, retroactive to 2022.

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Former US President Donald Trump, flanked by Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, at the White House.

REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Tariff Man’s main man: How Robert Lighthizer changed US trade policy

Former President Donald Trump delighted in calling himself “Tariff Man.” But Trump’s own Tariff Man was Robert Lighthizer, who led the Office of the US Trade Representative as the president’s top trade negotiator. Lighthizer’s new book, “No Trade Is Free: Changing Course, Taking on China, and Helping America’s Workers,” sets out his black-and-white views on trade, prosecutes his case against China as an existential threat to the US, and recounts his trade battles with foreign counterparts.

My career as a trade negotiator at USTR spanned the Obama, Trump, and Biden administrations. My experience during the Trump years, when Lighthizer was at the helm, can be summarized as: “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.”

Those years were the best of times because the top priority for Trump was trade policy — it was his obsession. As a result, USTR staff members were extraordinarily busy negotiating deals with China, Mexico, Canada, Japan, and others. For a career federal government official, it was a rare privilege for one’s work to be a top White House priority.

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Ari Winkleman

Should Biden lift Trump’s China tariffs?

Sometime this month, US President Joe Biden is expected to make up his mind about nixing (some of) the tariffs his predecessor, Donald Trump, slapped on three-quarters of Chinese imports. This was part of a wider trade war against Beijing, which hit back in kind.

Two years ago, then-candidate Biden said he'd remove Trump’s China tariffs if he won the White House but later decided to leave them in place — as he's done with many Trump-era China policies. Now, Biden is taking another look at keeping his campaign promise because, hello, inflation.

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The future of globalization
The Future of Globalization | Quick Take | GZERO Media

The future of globalization

Ian Bremmer's Quick Take: Hi everybody, Ian Bremmer here, and a Quick Take to get us kicked off this Monday morning. I thought I'd go a little macro today and talk about the future of globalization, because I hear so many people talking about the last 30 years of being this unprecedented period of goods and services and people and ideas and capital moving faster and faster across borders all over the world. And now, not anymore. Now, it's all about my country first and it's nationalists and it's insourcing and it's decoupling. And so we've hit this tipping point. Or have we? I don't quite buy this narrative that globalization is over. Rather, I think it's not being driven. I think people are angry about it and it's being fought over, but that's very different from saying that spikes are being put into it.

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China's love affair with Australian wine ends in a messy breakup

December 13, 2020 11:33 AM

The Australian wine industry is rethinking its entire global distribution plans

Chinese import curbs not good for global recovery: Canberra

November 30, 2020 5:00 AM

SYDNEY • Australia's trade minister said China's steps to curb imports of his country's goods are "aggressive" and undermine confidence in the global economic recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.

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