Has Donald Trump already changed US trade? - The Hindu Business Line

Has Donald Trump already changed US trade? - The Hindu Business Line

Has Donald Trump already changed US trade? - The Hindu Business Line

Trump is threatening to dismantle (pull down) the current world trading system, but in his first year US trading patterns show strong continuity with the previous administration
There is no doubt that President Trump is upending (to affect drastically) global trade. He has unleashed a trade war with China as well as with some of the US’s purported (pretended) allies, using grounds of “threats to national security” to impose tariffs on many US imports. The likely retaliation (counter attack) will obviously affect some US exports in turn. The trajectory (path) of world trade suddenly looks quite uncertain — and this will also depress investment across the trading world.

So the Trump effect on world trade is clearly just beginning. But the naked self-interest of Trump’s moves, the “America first” orientation declared by the US President, should not be interpreted only in the doom saying (the action of making dire predictions about the future quotations) tones of much of the mainstream media. The truth is that this orientation is not new: US trade policy always put the US first — or at the very least, privileged the interests of US capital vis-a-vis all other players.

US policy

The US strongly influenced the Uruguay Round of the GATT that introduced many new elements into trade negotiations (such as services, intellectual property provisions and trade-related investment measures) to benefit US multinationals. Subsequently, despite the promises made in the so-called “Doha Round”, the US and other advanced countries simply ignored the genuine demands and concerns about the unfair functioning of the WTO agreements.

In other bilateral and plurilateral negotiations, they have aggressively pushed for even stronger rules for intellectual property that enabled monopolies and rent-seeking by their own companies, and then sought to protect them through Investor-State Dispute Settlement mechanisms, with little concern for the impact on other economies. They have denied developing countries the right to ensure their own food security even as they have used the small print of various agreements to continue to give as many subsidies as they like themselves.

The difference is that today President Trump, as the head of the waning (dwindling) superpower, is no longer as interested in supporting the neo-liberal (a policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector) order that allowed the US to retain global supremacy for so long, and is happy to declare it as being against US interests. Of course, he will still promote US capital as aggressively as was done before, but the apparently “neutral” rules of the game that were pushed by previous US Presidents are now seen as providing too many opportunities to pretenders (someone who claims the right to that position, and whose claim is disputed by others), and therefore are sought to be overturned.

This is obviously a challenge for all US trading partners, but this also presents many developing countries with significant opportunities. Periods of global capitalist instability are generally seen as dark times, but through history they have also been periods when the established international division of labour (which tends to get cemented in more stable times) was changed, because they allowed newly industrialising countries to access markets and have some freedom in their own industrial policies. But even before the breakout of a trade war, which seems more and more possible, how much has the Trump administration already affected US trade patterns? In the absence of clear policies over the past year, even the bellicose (demonstrating aggression and willingness to fight) statements and threats made by the US President could be expected to have some impact.

The implications

What are the implications of all this for the US’s trading partners? The obvious lessons are already well known: do not expect any concessions from the US on any front and watch your own back. But there are other less obvious lessons. Pious (practised for some ostensibly good objective) neo-liberal multilateralism, as expressed in the rules and operations of the WTO, created a system of monstrous (heinous) but legally entrenched (established/firmed) inequalities.
The implosion (a sudden failure) of that system lays bare some of its hypocrisy. Perhaps smashing the myth of benign (gentle for one and not harmful for others)  intent will allow all countries to demand policy space to address the real concerns of their own citizens.


1. Dismantle (Verb) – To pull down something  (उद्ध्वस्त करना)
Synonyms – Demolish, Destroy, Disassemble, Raze, Undo, Wreck
Antonyms – Repair, Restore, Clothe, Cover, Assemble, Combine, Raise

2. Upend (Verb) – To affect drastically (उलट देना)
Synonyms – Alter, Backtrack, Capsize, Change, Convert, Evert, Modify, Overturn, Renege
Antonyms – Hold, Persist, Straighten

3. Purported (Adjective) – Pretended ( कथित रूप से)
Synonyms – Implied, Professed
Antonyms – Concealed, Disclaimed, Denied

4. Retaliation (Noun) – Counter Attack (प्रतिशोध)
Synonyms – Reprisal, Retribution, Vengeance, Comeuppance, Requital, Reward, Riposte
Antonyms – Forgiveness, Pardon, Sympathy

5. Trajectory (Noun) – Path (प्रक्षेप पथ)
Synonyms – Course, Route, Track, Line, Orbit, Flight, Ambit, Direction, Bearing, Orientation, Way, Tack, Approach

6. Doom Saying (Noun) – The action of making dire predictions about the future quotations

7. Waning (Adjective) Dwindling or Diminishing in Power (गिरावट)
Synonyms – Shrink, Slacken, Droop, Sink, Ebb, Dim, Dissolve, Attenuate, Abate, Recede, Slump, Atrophy
Antonyms – Grow, Improve

8. Neo-liberal (Adjective) – A policy model of social studies and economics that transfers control of economic factors to the private sector from the public sector (नवउदारतावाद)

9. Pretender (Noun) – A pretender to a position is someone who claims the right to that position, and whose claim is disputed by others (दावेदार)
Synonyms – Claimant, Aspirant

10. Bellicose (Adjective) – Demonstrating aggression and willingness to fight (युद्धप्रिय)
Synonyms – Belligerent, Aggressive, Hostile, Threatening, Antagonistic, Pugnacious, Truculent, Confrontational, Argumentative, Quarrelsome, Disputatious, Contentious, Militant, Combative
Antonyms – Calm, Easygoing, Pacific, Passive, Peaceful

11. Pious (Adjective) – Practised for some ostensibly good objective; In good faith (पवित्र)
Synonyms – Devout, Righteous, Saintly, Sanctimonious
Antonyms – Atheist, Impious, Irreligious, Sinful, Wicked

12. Monstrous (Adjective) – Heinous (भद्दा)
Synonyms – Appalling, Abhorrent, Evil, Wicked, Abominable, Terrible, Horrible, Dreadful, Hideous, Foul, Vile
Antonyms – Admirable, Good, Kind 

13. Entrench (Adjective) – Established/Firmed (मजबूत स्थिति बनाना)
Synonyms – Rooted, Fixed, Fortified, Dug in
Antonyms – Changeable, Indefinite, Irresolute

14. Implosion (Noun) – A sudden failure (अंतःस्फोट)
Synonyms – Breakdown, Deterioration, Inadequacy, Rupture
Antonyms – Accomplishment, Achievement, Advantage, Ascent, Benefit, Blessing, Continuation, Enough, Improvement, Increase, Plenty, Rise

15. Benign (Adjective) – Gentle for one and not harmful for others (सौम्य)
Synonyms – Affectionate, Amiable, Genial, Congenial, Cordial, Tender, Compassionate, Generous, Unselfish, Benevolent, Gracious, Liberal, Indulgent
Antonyms – Harsh, Violent, Cancerous, Hostile, Injurious, Malignant, Severe 

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