China must coordinate with India, Europe to restrain US trade unilateralism

By Hu Weijia Source:Global Times Published: 2018/5/21 22:08:39

India and the EU have given the WTO "lists of the US products that could incur high tariffs in retaliation for US President Donald Trump's global tariffs on steel and aluminum," Reuters reported over the weekend. Although the US has pulled back from launching a trade war with China, policy coordination among China, India and European countries is still needed to jointly restrain Trump's unilateralism.

Under the Trump presidency, the US seems to have abandoned the efforts of his predecessors to dominate the global trade order. Former US president Barack Obama's efforts to negotiate the Trans-Pacific Partnership, a cornerstone of his international trade policy, were long seen as a chance to let the US, not China, write the rules of trade for the 21st century.

Obama favored multilateral trade deals. He strove to expand the US' circle of friends and strengthen US leadership in the world.

However, Trump has changed the whole landscape of US trade policy since he came into office. With "America First" as his guiding principle, Trump has turned the US into a destroyer of the current global order. Now we can hardly say who is a firm ally for Trump, with the rise of trade protectionism. Carrying out a "divide and rule" policy, the US sowed dissension among its trade partners.

The Trump administration put pressure on European countries to knock down barriers to the economies of China and India, while trying to take advantage of China to hit Japan and the EU. As the US abandoned multilateral cooperation frameworks, Trump's unilateralism forced leaders of all those countries to come to negotiate with Washington to gain tariff exemptions. The US could gain pricing power as it stood at center stage of a new round of trade talks. The tactics are used to maximize the interests of the US.

China has not been the only victim of Trump's trade protectionism and unilateralism. "The EU said Trump's steel tariffs could cost $1.5 billion and aluminum tariffs a further $100 million," and listed rice, cranberries and some other US goods that it might target for retaliation, Reuters has reported. The US is likely to gain an advantage if every economy fights alone.

Policy coordination among China, India and European countries must be strengthened to jointly restrain Trump's unilateralism, and these economies need to exchange more high-level visits to enhance their interaction. It's not merely for the sake of these economies, but for global trade order.

The author is a reporter with the Global Times.


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