Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

Stocks Slide as China-U.S. Trade Conflict Kicks Off

March 23, 2018

European and Asian markets fall amid escalating trade tensions

Chinese border police officers watching the arrival of a container ship at a port in Qingdao in Shandong Province. On Friday, China said it planned to impose tariffs on a wide range of American products.CreditChinatopix, via Associated Press
  • Japan’s Nikkei drops 4.5%
  • U.S. stock futures edge lower
  • Bonds gain, yen hits highest since 2016

The global equities swoon deepened Friday in Europe and Asia, as market participants dumped stocks amid escalating trade tensions.

The Stoxx Europe 600 fell 0.9% in the early minutes of trading, following a 4.5% drop in Japan’s Nikkei and declines of 2%-4% in Hong Kong, South Korea, Australia and Shanghai. Futures suggested U.S. stocks would open slightly lower with the S&P 500 poised to edge down 0.2% and the Nasdaq off 0.6%.

The jitters came after the Trump administration on Thursday said it would impose tariffs on tens of billions of dollars of Chinese imports on top of duties on steel and aluminum imports. China’s commerce ministry responded Friday announcing it would levy tariffsagainst $3 billion worth of U.S. goods including pork and recycled aluminum.

“The market is so fixated on the potential effects of tariffs that it’s overshadowing anything else that’s occurring,” said Brent Schutte, chief investment strategist at Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company.

“Overall, I still think the risk of a large trade war, while probably bigger than a year ago, is still not large enough to derail the broader economic story,” he said, but noted there would be a lot of guess work for some time about just how far trade tensions can go.

On Thursday the Dow industrials fell 2.9%, their biggest one-day percentage decline since Feb. 8, while the S&P 500 fell 2.5% to erase all gains for the year.

Although the import tariffs had been telegraphed for weeks, Thursday’s package, covering about $60 billion in goods, sent investors into safe havens. Bonds and gold prices rose and the yen, which tends to rise in times of market stress, hit its highest level against the dollar since Donald Trump won the presidential election.

Gold was last up 1% at $1,340 an ounce. Yields on 10-year Treasurys fell to 2.820% Friday from 2.832% late Thursday in New York, following their biggest daily decline since September. Yields move inversely to prices.

“Yes, the news was out for a while, but the actual action was a bit of a surprise to the market,” said Shinchiro Kadota, a senior forex and rates strategist at Barclays . “Maybe they thought it would be smaller, maybe later.”

In Europe, the basic resources sector led declines with steel manufacturer Outokumpu Oyj down 4.8%. Banks also came under pressure as government bond yields fell.

The U.S. president suspended tariffs for Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, the European Union nations and South Korea, which effectively means tariffs will apply to three major steel exporters; China, Russia, and Japan.

Japan’s Nikkei Stock Average closed down 4.5% Friday as the yen’s sharp gains hit the export-heavy index.

Stocks in China also fell with the Shanghai Composite Index down 3.4%, and the Shenzhen Composite Index down 4.3%.

Hong Kong’s Hang Seng Index skidded 2.8% as index heavyweight Tencent added to Thursday’s 5% post-earnings drop with a 4.3% decline. The drop for the Chinese internet giant, Asia’s biggest company by market value, came as major shareholder Naspers , a South African media and internet firm, said it would sell a small portion of its one-third stake in the company.

China-based pork producer WH Group slumped 5.1%. It owns U.S.-based Smithfield, and its imports of U.S. pork into China will be hit by the new tariffs.

Asian companies, many of which are export-reliant, could get caught in the middle of tit-for-tat trade actions between the U.S. and China. While market sentiment is expected to remain downbeat in the short term, some analysts are cautioning about the longer-term impact.

A trader at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. U.S. stocks ended lower Thursday, with the Dow plunging over 700 points, after President Donald Trump announced tariffs on Chinese imports.
A trader at the New York Stock Exchange on Thursday. U.S. stocks ended lower Thursday, with the Dow plunging over 700 points, after President Donald Trump announced tariffs on Chinese imports. PHOTO: WANG YING/ZUMA PRESS

“Given the high costs of escalation on both sides, and also for the broader Asian supply chain, an extended and comprehensive trade war remains unlikely,” said Hannah Anderson, global market strategist at J.P. Morgan Asset Management.

She noted while there may be some negotiating before the tariffs go into effect, “investors should be prepared for headlines to continue to rock markets” meanwhile.

China’s reaction to the Trump administration’s announcement has so far not been as substantial as many had feared. Beijing, for example, hasn’t announced tariffs on the two largest U.S. exports to China—soybeans and airplane parts.

“We retain the view that China is willing to negotiate and is likely to offer concessions,” said Citibank. However, “uncertainty and the fear of escalation will likely hold back market sentiment in the short run.”

Chinese metals futures slumped 5%, and Shanghai rubber futures for a time were down the 7% daily limit.

Soybeans and soybean meal were trading higher in China as investors worried potential tariffs on the oilseed could impact supplies.

Write to Riva Gold at and Lucy Craymer at


  (Wall Street Journal)

 (The New York Times)


US: EU, 6 other economies exempt from metals tariffs for now

March 22, 2018


© POOL/AFP/File | US trade representative Robert Lighthizer announces temporary exemptions on metals tariffs for the EU and six other economies

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The European Union and six other economies will be exempt at least temporarily from the harsh steel and aluminum tariffs President Donald Trump has imposed, a top US trade official said Thursday.US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told a Senate committee that Trump authorized a “pause” in the imposition of the tariffs, which take effect Friday, while talks are underway to find a more permanent solution.

Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico and South Korea will also be exempt from the penalties of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum, along with the EU, he said.

Washington already had announced that major metals exporters Canada and Mexico would be exempt as talks continue to revamp the North American Free Trade Agreement.

And this week EU and US officials issued a joint statement saying they were working towards a solution to avoid tariffs on the trading bloc.

“The idea that the president has is that, based ona certain set of criteria, that some countries should get out,” Lighthizer said in testimony before the Senate Finance Committee.

“There are countries with whom we’re negotiating” and there will be “a pause in imposition of tariffs with respect to those countries,” he said.

Many countries, including the EU, have warned the White House that they will retaliate forcefully if they are face with tariffs on metals products.

The Trump administration has stressed that the primary target is China, which has long had massive overproduction that has impacted the global market for steel and aluminum, which poses a national security threat to the US economy.

Trump to announce China trade sanctions on Thursday

March 22, 2018

Related image

Chinese steel mill

WASHINGTON (AFP) – President Donald Trump is poised to unveil sanctions against China Thursday for the “theft” of US intellectual property, a White House official said, teeing up a second potential confrontation in as many months.

Spokesman Raj Shah told AFP that Trump will announce actions following an “investigation into China’s state-led, market-distorting efforts to force, pressure, and steal US technologies and intellectual property.”

According to his schedule, released by the White House on Wednesday evening, he will sign “a Presidential Memorandum targeting China’s economic aggression.”

Beijing has already warned the Trump administration against the move, urging him not act “emotionally.”

It is just weeks since Trump short-circuited White House deliberations and announced a raft of sanctions on foreign-produced steel and aluminum off the cuff.

That move prompted the resignation of top economic advisor Gary Cohn, a global stock market selloff, legal disputes and threats of retaliatory measures.

On Wednesday Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell warned that the prospect of a trade war was a growing threat to the world’s largest economy.

But the impulsive president is showing no sign of backing down.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently put a separate proposed package of $30 billion in tariffs on Chinese imports on Trump’s desk.

Image result for US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, photos

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer

And Trump appears to have agreed to at least that amount, as he tries to fulfil campaign promises to get tough on “cheating” by US trade partners, which he says have destroyed American jobs.

The US trade deficit with China ran to a record $375 billion last year — but US exports to the country were also at a record.

Washington has long accused Beijing of forcing US companies to turn over proprietary commercial information and intellectual property as a condition of operating in China.

Trump claims to have built up a generally good relationship with his Chinese counterpart Xi Jinping whom he has praised for his role in pressuring North Korea over its nuclear program.

However, the trade dispute threatens to cast a pall over those relations, especially given the recent warnings from Beijing.

– A laundry list of grievances –

A senior official in Lighthizer’s office said Wednesday that the Clinton, Bush and Obama administrations had attempted over the decades to coax China into respecting market economics and trade liberalization, but had all failed.

The Trump administration opened an investigation last August, acting on a series of allegations against China including that as a condition of doing business, China forces US companies to enter joint ventures and transfer technology and trade secrets to domestic partners and that US companies are not able to license intellectual property in China as freely as Chinese companies.

US officials also allege China has hacked US networks and conducted industrial espionage to steal US intellectual property.

Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his top economics advisor Liu He to Washington this month to discuss the tensions of trade, but the US official said that at no point had the Chinese made a constructive proposal.

“Certainly by November, the background was such that officials in China had reason to know about the concerns we’ve raised … At least, as of today the administration has not been satisfied with the types of responses we’ve been getting from China,” the senior official in Lighthizer’s office said, speaking on condition of anonymity in a briefing to reporters.

“Obviously the president will have the final say in terms of what we end up doing here.”

“As a general matter, we do have very strong evidence that China uses foreign ownership restrictions such as joint venture requirements and foreign equity limitations to require or pressure technology transfer from US companies to Chinese entities,” he added.

– Tariffs talks –

Along with the announcement of that offensive, Washington also held out the possibility of a detente with regards to the EU, which reacted furiously to the news of steel and aluminum tariffs.

In a joint statement, US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross and EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said they agreed to immediately begin “a process of discussion” on the tariffs and other matters “with a view to identifying mutually acceptable outcomes as rapidly as possible.”

Malmstrom had called for Europe to be exempted as a whole. Speaking to reporters in Brussels on Wednesday, European Council President Donald Tusk said he harbored “cautious optimism” on the prospects for a resolution.

The White House already said Canada and Mexico, which are major producers of the metals, will temporarily be exempt from the tariffs during talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

US, EU pledge to find ‘acceptable outcomes’ on metal tariffs

March 21, 2018


© AFP/File | US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross held talks with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem

WASHINGTON (AFP) – The United States and the European Union are launching a fresh round of talks in order to reach a “mutually acceptable” solution on trade disputes including steel and aluminum tariffs, officials from Washington and Brussels said Wednesday.The announcement comes after talks between US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and visiting EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem, and with steep new US import duties on steel and aluminum due to take effect later this week.

Ross and Malmstroem said they had “agreed to launch immediately a process of discussion… on trade issues of common concern, including steel and aluminum, with a view to identifying mutually acceptable outcomes as rapidly as possible.”

Washington has already said Canada and Mexico, which are major producers of the metals, will temporarily be exempt from the tariffs during talks to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

But other trading partners have peppered Washington with requests that they too be excluded from the punishing new tariffs of 10 percent on aluminum and 25 percent on steel.

Malmstroem had already said Europe should be exempted as a whole.

In congressional testimony earlier Wednesday, US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Washington was currently discussing tariff exemptions with Australia, Argentina and Brazil.

The talks should be finished by the end of April, Lighthizer said.

Meanwhile, Trump is expected to raise the temperature on trade this week yet again by unveiling a new package of retaliatory trade measures on Chinese imports to punish Beijing for the alleged “theft” of American companies’ intellectual property.

The Trump administration’s aggressive moves on trade have stoked alarm among lawmakers in the president’s own party, as well as industry groups, who say the measure exposes the United States to higher prices and retaliation.

Europe’s NATO members failing to meet spending targets

March 15, 2018

NATO members have increased defense spending in general, but European countries are having difficulties meeting a target of 2 percent of GDP demanded by US President Donald Trump. Germany is a long way off.

NATO battalion in the Baltics (picture-alliance/AP Photo/M. Kulbis)

Only three NATO members from the EU are meeting defense spending goals, the military alliance said in its annual report on Thursday.

Only Estonia, Greece and the United Kingdom met the 2 percent of GDP defense spending goal agreed in 2014. NATO members have until 2024 to reach the target.

But there were words of encouragement from NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg, who noted that “in 2017, European allies and Canada increased defense spending by almost 5 percent.”

View image on Twitter

In 2017, European Allies & increased their defence expenditure by almost 5%. And since 2014 we have added $18 bn more to spending on major equipment. – @jensstoltenberg

The United States remained the largest defense spender in the alliance, comprising two-thirds of the alliance’s overall expenditure. Washington last year spent 3.6 percent of GDP on defense.

Despite the current disparity, NATO expects four more countries to meet the target this year: Poland, Romania, Lithuania and Latvia.

Read more: How does Germany contribute to NATO?

Trump and 2 percent 

US President Donald Trump has lashed out at NATO allies over their failure to meet their commitments.

Read more:  Germany ‘not fair’ on defense spending, says Donald Trump

He has particularly pointed to Germany, which spent 1.24 percent of GDP on defense in 2017, up from 1.2 percent the previous year. In real terms, Germany increased defense spending by 6 percent to 40.5 billion ($50 billion), up 2.8 billion from 2016.

Stoltenberg said that Germany has stepped up contributions to NATO, for example in its mission in Afghanistan and forward deployed force in Lithuania to counter Russia.

German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen has already pledged Berlin will spend more on defense.

The problem for Germany and other states is that while they have increased spending, the percentage change is minor due to simultaneous economic growth. This means that in order to meet NATO goals, members must significantly increase expenditures for defense.

In addition, 23 EU nations in 2017 committed to a joint defense cooperation, focusing on coordination and investments, that could pave the way towards a European defense union.

cw/rt (AFP, dpa)

Most Philippine People Don’t Trust China — Filipinos see a “greedy foreign power” — “a fox disguised in sheep’s clothing.”

March 13, 2018

By Atty. Joey D. Lina

Former Senator

Manila Bulletin

In a recentepisode of DZMM’s teleradyo program, Magpayo Nga Kayo (9:30 – 10:30 am, Saturdays), which I co-host with famed broadcaster May Valle Ceniza, comments from our ardent followers confirmed what the latest SWS survey said: Most Filipinos trust the United States so much more than they do China.

In fact, all of the program’s listeners and viewers who called, sent text messages, or posted comments on Facebook expressed their distrust of China. I found their reactions very revealing, especially because not a single one of them had a kind word for China despite the persistent stance of administration officials to pursue and nurture lasting friendship with our giant neighbor.

It seems all the exchange of friendly gestures and reassuring rhetoric between the governments of the Philippines and China have done little to significantly improve the low level of trust which typical Filipinos have for the Chinese government.

The latest Social Weather Stations survey taken in Decembe, 2017,  showed Filipinos have much trust for the United States, Canada, and Japan. Although SWS said the net trust rating for China “rose by one grade from poor to neutral for China, at +7 (38% much trust, 31% little trust) in December, 2017,” it was a far cry from the rating for US which “stayed very good at +68 (75% much trust, 7% little trust) in December, 2017.” In the same period, Canada “rose by one grade from good to very good at +55 (65% much trust, 10% little trust), while Japan also rose from good to very good, “at a record high +54 (65% much trust, 11% little trust).”

Much of the reasons for Filipinos’ distrust of China focused mainly on its incursions into the West Philippine Sea and also on perceived attempts, that came to light in recent months, of China to creep into Benham Rise and gather sensitive security information in it, raising fears it would eventually threaten the Philippines’ sovereign rights over the area.

Gauging by the feedback from the DZMM audience, it has become apparent that the bullying actuations over the years of China have taken their toll on most Filipinos’ perception of it. It is now widely believed that the incursions into Philippine territorial waters have firmed up the impression that China is a “greedy foreign power” which Filipinos have to be wary of because of the perception that its presently friendly stance toward the Philippines is merely that of “a fox disguised in sheep’s clothing.”

Other Southeast Asian countries like Vietnam, Indonesia, and Malaysia which are at odds with China’s expansionism are also wary. Though Chinese economic assistance to Asean countries is welcome, analysts are one in their view that “territorial disputes with Beijing in the South China Sea have cast our giant neighbor as an arrogant bully.”

And when President Duterte, shortly after he assumed power in 2016, floated the idea of a probable alliance with China while talking of terminating military ties with the US, security analysts viewed such idea as “unthinkable” for most Filipinos mainly due to cultural, social, and ideological reasons.

Despite historical abuses and excesses, such as the Balangiga massacre committed by US forces in the past, Filipinos have learned to trust Americans – the primary reason why there are about 3.5 million Filipino-Americans in the US pursuing or living the American Dream.

Indeed, while almost every Filipino has a relative or close friend residing in the US, the same cannot be said of China even with its close proximity. Given a choice, the typical Filipino would prefer to visit or stay in the US than in China.

It really boils down to trust. Despite all the positive developments that have transpired between the Philippines and China since President Duterte took over the reins of government, Filipinos are still wary. And it certainly doesn’t help to hear the President joking that our country ought to become a “province” of China. Many regard it as a cruel joke and an insult to the heroic struggles of our forefathers against foreign invaders.

It also doesn’t help learning of a report, published in China’s state-owned Global Times, that the head of Xiamen University’s Southeast Asian Studies Center, Zhuang Guotu, has said that “loans are usually accompanied by repayment agreements, which use certain natural resources as collateral.” The report has ignited fears that natural resources in the Philippines could be mortgaged to fund infrastructure projects.

But it’s good that the Chinese Foreign Ministry dispelled the report when it said: “China has never asked and will never ask relevant countries to use natural resources as collateral in loan agreements. In this vein, our assistance and support to the Philippines are provided with no strings attached.”

With the clarification, China ought to be forever bound by its statement, assuming the Chinese government can now be trusted. But whatever its worth, the statement can go a long way in developing trust. And we need more similar statements to address the many worries of Filipinos concerning China. And, needless to say, China must show that it stands by its commitments. Only then can trust be strengthened; only with trust can friendship blossom.



 Image may contain: ocean, sky, outdoor and water
China has militarized the South China Sea — even though they have no legal claim. This is Mischief Reef, now an extensive Chinese military base — one of seven Chinese military bases near the Philippines

No automatic alt text available.

China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.


No automatic alt text available.
Chinese bases near the Philippines

China Banking Crisis Warning Signal Still Flashing — Canada, Hong Kong At Risk — Maxed-out credit cards, high debt levels, household borrowing

March 12, 2018


By John Glover

 Updated on 
  • Canada and Hong Kong also seen at risk from high indebtedness
  • Still, China’s deleveraging campaign is easing credit levels
Professor Shih Says China’s Credit Growth Has Slowed
 Image result for University of California’s Shih, photos
University of California’s Shih discusses China’s deleveraging efforts and the possibility of a banking crisis.

China, Canada and Hong Kong are among the economies most at risk of a banking crisis, according to early-warning indicators compiled by the Bank for International Settlements.

Canada — whose economy grew last year at the fastest pace since 2011 — was flagged thanks to its households’ maxed-out credit cards and high debt levels in the wider economy. Household borrowing is also seen as a risk factor for China and Hong Kong, according to the study.

“The indicators currently point to the build-up of risks in several economies,” analysts Inaki Aldasoro, Claudio Borio and Mathias Drehmann wrote in the BIS’s latest Quarterly Review published on Sunday.

The study offered some surprising results: for example, Italy wasn’t shown as being at risk, despite its struggles with a slow-growing economy and banks that are mired in bad debts.

While China was flagged, a key warning indicator known as the credit-to-gross domestic product “gap” showed an improvement, said the BIS, known as the central bank for central banks. This may suggest the government is making progress in its push to reduce financial-sector risk.

The gap is the difference between the credit-to-GDP ratio and its long-term trend. A blow-out in the number can signal that credit growth is excessive and a financial bust may be looming. In China, the gap fell to 16.7 percent in the third quarter of 2017, down from a peak of 28.9 percent in March 2016 and the lowest since 2012, the study showed.

The narrowing gap in China “suggests the efficiency of financial intermediation is improving,” said Ding Shuang, chief economist for Greater China and North Asia at Standard Chartered Plc in Hong Kong. “This helps to slow the pace of the rise of the debt-to-GDP ratio, creating conditions for an eventual deleveraging of the economy.”

Financial Crackdown

China is getting serious about dangers in its financial system. While derisking has been the government’s mantra since 2015, the country’s most powerful politicians have been ramping up directives on everything from shadow banking to stock-market speculation. Since April last year, financial regulators have targeted curbing the growth of wealth management products and interbank borrowings, with a more recent focus on reining in household debt.

Read this QuickTake Q&A on how China is tackling financial risk

The Basel, Switzerland-based BIS routinely collects and analyzes data to monitor vulnerabilities in the global financial system. These figures typically include the amount of credit in an economy and house prices, as well as borrowers’ ability to service their debts.

For this study, the analysts assessed household borrowings and cross-border or foreign-currency liabilities as potential sources of vulnerability by back-testing them against earlier crises. They then scored the indicators by the amount they currently deviate from long-term trends.

— With assistance by Samuel Dodge, Jeff Black, Jun Luo, and Enda Curran

Includes video:

Critics bash Trump for not listening — but offer no solutions

March 11, 2018

Sebastian Gorka: Trump Causes World Leaders To Retink America’s Role From Beijing to Pyongyang and Berlin — The Revenge of Common Sense

March 10, 2018

The Hill


For a man who has been in the public limelight for more than 30 years, it is remarkable how little Donald Trump is properly understood, simply because he is now the president of the United States and no longer a real-estate magnate and media celebrity.

When I was in the White House, and even today, if ever I am asked to help explain the way President Trump thinks and acts, I always start with the same advice: Read “The Art of the Deal.” For diplomats, journalists or simply the unconvinced, this is the quickest and most accurate way of understanding just how much America changed when we chose the iconoclastic non-politician for the highest office in the land.


Image may contain: 1 person, standing, suit and beard

Recent decisions from the Oval Office, especially on steel and aluminum tariffs, as well as the developments out of the Korean peninsula, underscore the enormity of the shift in the American politics and our role in the world as a nation which shapes geopolitics as opposed to just riding along its wavetops and being buffeted by events.One of the earliest declarative statements from “The Art of the Deal” is the advice Donald Trump gives that you should never ever be so invested in a yet-to-be-sealed deal that you cannot walk away from it at any juncture. This attitude informed President Trump for nigh on half a century in the private sector, and it still informs his decisions today as president, from the Paris Accord to NAFTA.

The negotiations themselves, or maintaining the established way of doing business, are never the objectives. The real objective is defined by realizing your interests, which may not be possible if the status quo is maintained. President Trump may not be a biblical exegete, but I can assure you that he instinctively knows that there are times when you simply have to “turn over the tables in the temple” to get things done.

In other words, outside of our borders, in relations with other nations and organizations, there are very few sacred cows, especially if the matter at hand clashes directly with promises candidate Trump made to the American people. That is why, for example, despite howls from the establishment and even members of his own team, President Trump was never going to cave on recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of the eternal Jewish state or renege on his promises to American coal miners and steel workers.

Image result for Donald Trump speaking in the white house, photos

This commitment to promises made is all the more valid given that the president has minimal respect for the so-called “elite” that has been responsible for all the many policies that have undermined America financially and otherwise in recent decades, from interminable wars in the Middle East to trade deals and international regimes that facilitated the rise of a Communist China which steals our secrets wholesale, intimidates our friends and props up rogue regimes who preach our destruction.

Simply put, this is the “Revenge of Common Sense,” a characteristic of the new commander-in-chief which appeals to ordinary Americans all over the country, including areas that were long considered Democratic strongholds. The bucking of the establishment and its conventional wisdoms is, in fact, something the president relishes, most particularly when it comes to otherwise indefensible nostrums which have embedded themselves into the collective mind of the body politic.

How many times have we had to hear over the last few weeks that there are only 600,000 Americans working in the steel industry but millions in steel-dependent manufacturing, such as the automotive sector? Yet, did anyone stop to think what the logical ramifications of this “critique” of the president’s tariff policy truly are?

Such an unsophisticated boilerplate criticism only holds water if you subscribe to a belief that a national economy is a closed system and that we should never increase the number of steel workers because somehow for every additional foundryman you hire you must fire an assembler on a manufacturing line. Such zero-sum thinking is fine for a class in dialectic materialism in Pyongyang, but not on Wall Street, or the Chamber of Commerce, or anywhere else within a free market. Like the president, most Americans know instinctively that wealth is not an issue of redistribution in a bubble, but that it has always been created, from the historic Gold Rush, to Henry Ford, to Silicon Valley.

President Obama sent Hillary Clinton to present a mislabeled “reset button” to the Kremlin. In reality, there was no reset. The Obama administration did not effectively address the expansionist and destabilizing behavior of former KGB colonel Vladimir Putin, not even after he invaded Ukraine. With regard to the Middle East, the Obama White House empowered the murderous regime in Iran by releasing $150 billion to Tehran, paying a cash ransom and agreeing to the Iran deal that wouldn’t, in fact, prevent a nuclear breakout by the mullahs.

In Egypt, President Obama embraced the Muslim Brotherhood government of Mohammed Morsi. In Iraq, he decided to prematurely withdraw before our work was done and Al Qaeda had been crushed, thus sowing the seeds for ISIS. With regard to Asia, the last administration refused to take any meaningful action as Beijing expanded its reach with military installations on illegal artificial atolls, all the while perpetuating its acquiescence to North Korea’s continued policy of nuclear blackmail of Washington and the West. Ironically, all this while in ownership of a Nobel Peace Prize.

President Trump may not have been awarded a prize by anyone, let alone from the now increasingly irrelevant Nobel Committee. But he has effected a true reset, and a global one at that, from a revitalized NATO finally committed, after decades of sloth, to paying its fair share on defense, to the crushing of the physical caliphate of ISIS, to the restoration of our relations with nations we had turned our backs on, most importantly, Israel and Egypt. It is a reset that included tough talk with China and North Korea, talk followed up by actions that have led to a response on behalf of Pyongyang, which may take us to the cusp of bringing peace and stability to the region after 65 years of potential war.

And we are only in the fourteenth month of the Trump presidency.

Sebastian Gorka, Ph.D., is a national security strategist with Fox News and former deputy assistant and strategist to President Trump. He is the author of the New York Times bestseller “Defeating Jihad: The Winnable War.” You can follow him on Twitter @SebGorka.


EU, Japan seek clarity from crunch US trade talks

March 10, 2018


© AFP / by Alex PIGMAN | Japan’s Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko was also in Brussels for the talks
BRUSSELS (AFP) – The EU and Japan held crunch talks with their US counterparts in Brussels on Saturday hoping to get “clarity” on President Donald Trump’s controversial new steel and aluminium tariffs.

Trump’s announcement of duties of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminium has stung the European Union and triggered warnings of an all-out international trade war.

Brussels has prepared a list of US products to hit with countermeasures if its exports are affected by the tariffs, but says it hopes to join Canada and Mexico in being exempted. Japan has decried the “grave impact” the Trump measures could have on the world economy.

The EU’s top trade official Cecilia Malmstroem and Japanese Economy Minister Hiroshige Seko began preliminary talks in Brussels ahead of the sitdown with US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer.

The talks, initially set to address China’s over-supply of steel, have long been in the diary but after Trump’s dramatic announcement they are now a de facto crisis meeting.

“Dialogue is always the prime option of the European Union,” Malmstroem told reporters on Friday, saying Brussels was “counting on being excluded” from the new duties.

She predicted a “long day” of talks on Saturday, while European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen sought to play down expectations, saying it was “a meeting, not THE meeting”.

Katainen said Brussels wanted “clarity” on how the tariffs will be implemented and was ready to enforce retaliatory measures to protect European interests if needed.

“We are prepared and will be prepared if need be to use rebalancing measures,” Katainen said.

– US ‘affront’ –

Along with a huge range of steel products, the EU’s hit list of flagship American products lined up for counter measures includes peanut butter, bourbon whiskey and denim jeans.

Germany — singled out for particular criticism by Trump — accused Washington of protectionism, calling the tariffs an “affront to close partners”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel urged dialogue and warned that “no one can win in such a race to the bottom”.

French President Emmanuel Macron on Friday warned his US counterpart Trump against forging ahead with the planned tariffs, saying they risked provoking a mutually destructive “trade war”.

Trump said the tariffs, which will come into effect after 15 days, will not initially apply to Canada and Mexico. He also added Australia to the list of likely carve-outs.

Complicating matters, Trump indicated on Friday that Australia’s carveout was linked to an unspecified “security agreement” outside of trade policy.

This shed some light on the tycoon’s specific barbs against Germany — the biggest economy in the European Union — that have finger-pointed Berlin for contributing much less than the US towards the funding of NATO.

The EU exports around five billion euros’ ($4 billion) worth of steel and a billion euros’ worth of aluminium to the US each year, and the European Commission, the bloc’s executive arm, estimates Trump’s tariffs could cost some 2.8 billion euros.

Brussels is also looking at “safeguard” measures to protect its industry — restricting the bloc’s imports of steel and aluminium to stop foreign supplies flooding the European market, which is allowed under World Trade Organization rules.

The EU and Japan last year formally agreed the broad outlines of a landmark trade deal that was announced as a direct challenge to the protectionism championed by Trump.

by Alex PIGMAN