Posts Tagged ‘Canada’

U.S. exempts certain steel products of Japan, four other nations from 25% import duties

June 21, 2018

The Commerce Department said Wednesday it has exempted some steel products from Japan and four other countries from the U.S. global tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports.

The exemption applies to seven U.S.-based companies importing steel products from Japan, Sweden, Belgium, Germany and China, the department said.

It was the first time that the United States has taken such action on a product basis since President Donald Trump invoked global tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum in March, citing the need to defend “national security.”

The action covers 42 “exclusion requests” from the seven companies, including razor maker Schick Manufacturing Inc. of Connecticut, cutting tool maker Nachi America Inc. of Indiana and specialty steel supplier Hankev International Inc. of California.

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U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross attends a Senate Finance Committee session discussing U.S. President Donald Trump administration’s imposing of tariffs on steel and aluminum in Washington Wednesday. | GETTY IMAGES / VIA KYODO

But it was not known for which products manufacturers from the five countries have won the exemptions.

The decision came after a process to determine whether the domestic industry can provide those products of a satisfactory quality and in sufficient quantity, as well as whether it is in the U.S. national security interest to grant an exemption for a specific product, according to the department.

“This first set of exclusions confirm what we have said from the beginning — that we are taking a balanced approach that accounts for the needs of downstream industries while also recognizing the threatened impairment of our national security caused by imports,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

The Trump administration initially exempted Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union, Mexico and South Korea from the import duties, but drew criticism for imposing the tariffs on Canada, the European Union and Mexico on June 1.

The tariffs were apparently targeting China as the administration continued to push the emerging powerhouse to reduce its excess capacity — and exports — in these metals, a situation that Trump claims undermines American industry and jobs.


EU to impose countertariffs on US products as of Friday

June 20, 2018

A raft of retaliatory tariffs from the European Union on US products will come into effect on June 22. The EU’s list of targets reads like a summary of emblematic American exports, including motorbikes and jeans.

US products (picture-alliance/dpa/C. Charisius)

EU countertariffs on a list of US products would come into force on Friday, the European Commission said Wednesday.

The retaliatory measure comes in response to US tariff hikes on steel and aluminum that were imposed on EU member countries on June 1, with the White House citing grounds of national security.

“We did not want to be in this position,” EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said in a statement. “However, the unilateral and unjustified decision of the United States to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on the EU means that we are left with no other choice.”

‘Doing nothing no option’

The agreed EU countermeasures will initially target a list of US goods worth $3.2 billion (€2.8 billion), most of which will be hit with import duties of 25 percent.

The products affected by the move range from agricultural produce such as rice and orange juice to jeans, bourbon, motorbikes and various steel products. The higher tariffs had previously been registered with the World Trade Organization (WTO).

“The rules of international trade that we have developed over the years with our American partners cannot be violated without a reaction from our side,” Malmstrom said. She called the EU’s response “measured, proportionate and fully in line with WTO rules.”

Trade war looming

Canada and Mexico have also announced their own similar countermeasures just as an even greater trade spat pits the US against China.

Together, the current battles have raised the specter of a global trade war, spooking financial markets that fear major consequences for the world economy.

hg/jd (dpa, AFP)

Canada legalizes recreational marijuana use

June 20, 2018

Canada’s Senate has passed a landmark law, known as the Cannabis Act, legalizing recreational marijuana use. Canadians will have to wait until September at the earliest, however, before they can buy the drug legally.

Marijuana Day in Canada (Getty Images/AFP/C. Roussakis)

The Canadian Senate on Tuesday gave the final passage to the Cannabis Act, a landmark bill legalizing the purchase and consumption of marijuana.

The bill passed its final hurdle in a 52-29 Senate votes. It is expected to come into force within eight to 12 weeks.

How will Canada’s cannabis market work?

Under the Cannabis Act, or Bill C-45, Canadian adults will be able to:

  • Purchase cannabis and cannabis oil produced by licensed growers at various retail locations
  • Order marijuana, as well as plants and seeds, online from retailers licensed by the federal government
  • Grow up to four marijuana plants in their home for personal use
  • Carry up to 30 grams (1 ounce) of marijuana in public
  • However, they will not be allowed to buy edible foods infused with marijuana for up to a year after the bill comes into force. The government intends to outline regulations for those products over the coming year.

‘Good for kids, bad for criminals’

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who pledged to push for legalization during his 2015 campaign, tweeted just minutes after the vote: “It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana — and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize and regulate marijuana just passed the Senate.”

Justin Trudeau


It’s been too easy for our kids to get marijuana – and for criminals to reap the profits. Today, we change that. Our plan to legalize & regulate marijuana just passed the Senate.

“We’ve just witnessed a historic vote for Canada,” Senator Tony Dean, who sponsored the Senate bill, told broadcaster CBC. “The end of 90 years of prohibition. Transformative social policy, I think. A brave move on the part of the government.”

Read more: 5 facts about cannabis laws in Germany

Provinces given some leeway: Although the law applies nationwide, individual provinces will be allowed to make a handful of their own rules. For example, certain states have indicated they intend to set the legal age at 19. The standard legal age is 18. Quebec, Manitoba and Nunavut have also said they want to prohibit marijuana cultivation at home.

Following in Uruguay’s footsteps: Tuesday’s passage of Bill C-45 makes Canada only the world’s second country to introduce a nationwide marijuana market, after Uruguay fully legalized the drug last year. The US has seen nine states legalize recreational cannabis use, while another 29 states allow medicinal use. However, Washington has so far refrained from introducing a nationwide legalization law.

Cannabis remains illegal in Germany, although laws concerning private consumption are relatively relaxed. Medical marijuana was legalized in March 2017.

Read more: Of hemp, smoke and mirrors

Legalization by September: Trudeau’s government had initially said it hoped to legalize cannabis by July 1. That deadline was pushed back, however, after the Senate requested more time to review the bill. The delay also gives each province eight to 12 weeks to prepare for the upcoming retail sales. Nevertheless, the bill is expected to receive royal assent in order to formally become law by as early as Wednesday.

dm/se (AP, AFP, dpa)

Just the Fear of a Trade War Is Straining the Global Economy

June 17, 2018

Only a few months ago, the global economy appeared to be humming, with all major nations growing in unison. Now, the world’s fortunes are imperiled by an unfolding trade war.

As the Trump administration imposes tariffs on allies and rivals alike, provoking broad retaliation, global commerce is suffering disruption, flashing signs of strains that could hamper economic growth. The latest escalation came on Friday, when President Trump announced fresh tariffs on $50 billion in Chinese goods, prompting swift retribution from Beijing.

As the conflict broadens, shipments are slowing at ports and airfreight terminals around the world. Prices for crucial raw materials are rising. At factories from Germany to Mexico, orders are being cut and investments delayed. American farmers are losing sales as trading partners hit back with duties of their own.

By Peter S. GoodmanIan Austen and Elisabeth Malkin

The New York Times

Workers in a Canadian steel mill scrambled to recall rail cars headed to the United States border after Mr. Trump this month slapped tariffs on imported metals. A Seattle customer soon canceled an order.

The ThyssenKrupp steel mill in Duisburg, Germany. At factories from Germany to Mexico, orders are being cut and investments delayed. Credit Lukas Schulze/Getty Images

“The impact was felt immediately,” said Jon Hobbs president of AltaSteel in Edmonton. “The penny is really dropping now as to what this means to people’s businesses.”

The Trump administration portrays its confrontational stance as a means of forcing multinational companies to bring factory production back to American shores. Mr. Trump has described trade wars as “easy to win” while vowing to rebalance the United States’ trade deficits with major economies like China and Germany.

Mr. Trump’s offensive may yet prove to be a negotiating tactic that threatens economic pain to force deals, rather than a move to a full-blown trade war. Americans appear to be better insulated than most from the consequences of trade hostilities. As a large economy in relatively strong shape, the United States can find domestic buyers for its goods and services when export opportunities shrink.

Even so, history has proved that trade wars are costly while escalating risks of broader hostilities. Fears are deepening that the current outbreak of antagonism could drag down the rest of the world.

A jacket factory in Ontario. The United States last year imported more than $600 billion in goods and services from Canada and Mexico, the two other nations in the North American Free Trade Agreement — a deal President Trump has threatened to blow up. Credit Mark Blinch/Reuters

Before most trade measures fully take effect, businesses are already grappling with the consequences — threats to their supplies, uncertainty over the terms of trade and gnawing fear about what comes next.

Read the rest:


U.S. Ambassador to Canada gets death threat; Justin Trudeau rushes to express support

June 17, 2018

Top Canadian officials, led by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, rushed to express support for Ambassador Kelly Craft after a package containing a suspicious substance and a death threat was mailed to the U.S. diplomat.

The incident came as tensions remain high in Canada over a brewing tariff fight, which erupted over Donald Trump’s criticism of Trudeau as “dishonest & weak,” the president’s refusal to endorse the final communique at the Group of Seven summit a week ago, and Canada’s outrage that tariffs have been applied under the pretext of national security.

White powder was found Thursday in an package addressed to Craft at the U.S. embassy in Ottawa and discovered by a mail-room employee at the ambassador’s residence, an embassy official said. The police were contacted, and tests determined the substance wasn’t harmful.

An expletive-filled letter containing death threats against Craft, Trump, and members of Trump’s family was also enclosed, said the official, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly on the matter.

Justin Trudeau Photographer: Jason Alden/Bloomberg

Trudeau called Craft on Friday to check on her welfare, his office said.

‘Place in Hell’

Chrystia Freeland, Canada’s minister of foreign affairs, held a previously-scheduled meeting with Craft on Friday about U.S. tariffs. “I also expressed my support for the ambassador following the wholly unacceptable threat against her,” Freeland said on Twitter. “She does an essential and difficult job and Canada respects her service.”

Testing relations between the strong allies, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said in a Fox News interview on June 10 that there’s a “special place in hell” for Trudeau. He’s since apologized. Larry Kudlow, Trump’s economic adviser, said the same day that Canada’s leader had “kind of stabbed us in the back.”

The U.S. has set tariffs on Canadian steel and aluminum, and Canada has retaliated with dollar-for-dollar tariffs on U.S. steel, aluminum and other products including whiskies. The countries are also embroiled in ongoing Nafta talks, punctuated by Trump’s regular threats to quit the three-nation pact. The U.S. has also put tariffs on Canadian softwood lumber and has started the process for potential tariffs on the auto sector, while Trump regularly complains about Canada’s dairy policies.

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Justin Trudeau, Canada’s prime minister, right, and Kelly Craft, U.S. ambassador to Canada, sit for a photograph during a meeting in his office at Parliament Hill in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.DAVID KAWAI/GETTY IMAGES

‘Red, White and Bourbon’

Some prominent members of the Canadian media have said they plan to boycott the U.S. ambassador’s traditional Fourth of July party, and have suggested Canadian cabinet members do so as well.

The Independence Day event of some 5,000 people is typically the U.S. envoy’s biggest of the year in Ottawa. It’ll be the first for Craft, who took up her post in October. A wide range of lawmakers and government officials usually attend.

This year’s party will celebrate “Red, White and Bourbon” in a nod to Craft’s home state of Kentucky, a major bourbon whiskey producer. It will take place days after Canada’s proposed whiskey tariffs are due to go into effect on July 1.

Trump Expected to List China Tariffs, Potentially Reigniting Trade War

June 15, 2018

The White House is expected on Friday to release a final list of Chinese goods that it plans to subject to tariffs and could soon begin putting some of those levies into effect, potentially reigniting a trade war that had been on the back burner while President Trump engaged in delicate nuclear diplomacy with North Korea.

The Trump administration has vacillated between threatening tariffs on China and putting the trade war “on hold” as it tries to negotiate a deal with Beijing that would give American companies greater access to the Chinese market. Those negotiations have produced little in the way of a firm commitment, however, with China offering to purchase nearly $70 billion in energy, agricultural and manufactured products from the United States, but only if the White House suspends tariffs on Chinese products.

The White House has given no indication that it plans to back away from its threat of tariffs against Chinese goods, which President Trump and his advisers see as giving the United States leverage in negotiations with Beijing. Credit Randall Hill/Reuters

By Alan Rappeport and Ana Swanson
The New York Times

So far, the White House has given no indication that it plans to back away from its threat of tariffs, which President Trump and his advisers see as giving the United States leverage in negotiations with Beijing. But while the administration is expected to detail on Friday the final list of goods that it plans to subject to the tariffs, it may phase those in to allow for continuing discussions, according to people familiar with the administration’s plans.

In early April, the Trump administration outlined a preliminary list of roughly $50 billion in Chinese products that would be subject to 25 percent tariffs — including televisions, medical devices, aircraft parts and batteries. It has since refined the list based on feedback from business owners, trade groups and other industry representatives, who testified at public hearings in Washington in mid-May.

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Trump Approves Tariffs on $50 Billion of Chinese Goods — Stronger focus on technology

June 15, 2018
Final product list due Friday may be followed by tariffs soon — China has vowed to retaliate in kind, threatening trade war

President Donald Trump has decided to impose tariffs on about $50 billion in Chinese imports, according to two people familiar with the matter, in a move likely to escalate trade tensions between the world’s two biggest economies.

Image result for china, ship with exports to u.s., photos

The size of the approved tariffs matches the scale of duties proposed in April, suggesting the president isn’t bowing to warnings that trade penalties may derail relations with China as the U.S. seeks to maintain pressure on North Korea over its nuclear weapons program.

The Trump administration had prepared a refined list of Chinese products to be hit with tariffs that homes in on technologies where China wants to establish itself as a leader, according to five different people familiar with the matter.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer were all with Trump in a meeting Thursday when the president made the decision, said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, who declined to confirm what was decided. Economic adviser Larry Kudlow, who had a heart attack on Monday, didn’t take part, she said.

In April, the U.S. revealed an initial list targeting about 1,300 products worth $50 billion in Chinese imports. Some products were taken off the preliminary list but none were added, said one of the people familiar with the decision, who spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the action before its announcement.

The U.S. is scheduled on Friday to release an updated list of Chinese tariff targets. The White House has said the duties will be implemented “shortly” after the release of the list, though no date has been set.

The tariffs could be applied in stages, according to two of the people briefed on the administration’s plans. Duties will take effect on some products within weeks. Tariffs on any products added to the U.S. Trade Representative’s list would be subject to a period of public feedback.

Trump said this week he’ll confront China “very strongly” over trade in the coming weeks. “China could be a little bit upset about trade because we are very strongly clamping down on trade,” the president said in a Fox News interview on Wednesday.

2025 Aspirations

The administration has said it wants to aim its tariffs at industries identified in China’s 2025 plan. “Made in China 2025” identified 10 industries that the world’s second-biggest economy wants to become globally competitive, and dominant in during this century.

It’s not clear whether the administration will still target that amount with the list it reveals on Friday.

By plowing ahead with tariffs against China, the Trump administration would undermine efforts by the world’s two biggest economies to avoid a trade war that the International Monetary Fund has warned could undermine global growth. The president has been threatening tariffs against China since U.S. officials concluded that Beijing abuses American intellectual-property rights.

The two countries have been negotiating on trade issues, but President Xi Jinping’s government has indicated it will drop any commitments made in recent talks if Trump follows through on his tariff threat. China has pledged to retaliate in kind.

Trump is shaking up the world economic order with his zeal for tariffs and embrace of trade conflict as a way to secure benefits for the U.S. He threw a summit of the Group of Seven wealthy economies into turmoil by revoking support for the group’s joint statement and berating the summit’s host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

So far, the U.S. has imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. Economists expect the direct impact on the U.S. economy to be modest. But if the president follows through on all the duties he’s threatened, including the tariffs against China, U.S. inflation could accelerate by 15 basis points, according to Goldman Sachs.

Trump’s tariffs may also influence his efforts to bring peace to the Korean Peninsula. Beijing is an important player in talks with North Korea on abandoning its nuclear-weapons program.

The president has been under pressure from U.S. lawmakers over his decision to soften a penalty on Chinese telecom-equipment maker ZTE Corp. In April, the U.S. banned ZTE from buying American technology for seven years, effectively putting the company out of business. But Trump said this month ZTE could avoid the ban if it paid at least $1 billion in penalties, among other things. U.S. senators are seeking ways to block the deal in Congress.

The Trump administration has veered between punishing China and helping it, including giving the telecom firm ZTE a reprieve from American sanctions.CreditGilles Sabrié for The New York Times

— With assistance by Justin Sink, and Jennifer Jacobs

Canadians boycott US products, cancel vacations to America

June 14, 2018

Blame America.

Canadians have taken to practicing pocketbook diplomacy in defense of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who is caught in a trade war of words with President Trump, by boycotting American goods and canceling vacations to the United States, according to a report.

Shoppers are shunning Kentucky bourbon, California wine and Florida oranges, and avoiding American companies like Starbucks, Walmart and McDonald’s, Canadian network CTV News reported on Wednesday.

On Twitter, hashtags like #BuyCanadian, #BoycottUSProducts and #BoycottUSA are spreading as outrage over Trump’s trade tariffs grows.

AFP/Getty Images

An Ottawa man posted a “Trump-free grocery cart”full of products from Canada or from “countries with strong leadership.”

Vacationers said they would be staying up north this summer instead of booking trips to the US.

“F​–k​ you Trump. We just booked a $3,000 vacation to beautiful British Columbia. Happy anniversary to us. #Canadastrong #BuyCanadian #F***Tariffs,” tweeted ​Supreme Leader Lyna.

And one Twitter user called on “Patriotic Americans” to schedule vacations in Canada and increase their purchases of Canadian goods.

Trudeau acknowledged the support of individual Canadians during an event at Parliament earlier this week.

“There’s a bit of a patriotic boost going on these past few days,” he said.

Trump and Trudeau are locked in a tiff over tariffs after the president last week said he would impose penalties on steel and aluminum imports.

​The squabble escalated over the weekend at the G7 meeting of economic powers in Quebec when Trudeau said in a news conference that Canada would not be “pushed around” by the US and called the tariffs “insulting.”

Trump heard the remarks as he flew in Air Force One to his summit in Singapore with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and withdrew from a statement issued by the G7 on trade.

He also blasted Trudeau in a tweet, calling him “very dishonest & weak.”


EU backs tariffs against US as trade war escalates

June 14, 2018

BRUSSELS (AFP) – EU countries on Thursday approved a raft of tariffs targeting US goods including whiskey and motorcycles in retaliation against painful duties imposed by President Donald Trump on European metals.

Europe’s move fuels a growing transatlantic trade war just days after a disastrous G7 summit in Canada at which Trump lambasted his allies on the issue and refused to adopt a joint statement.

Image may contain: 3 people, suit

Donald Trump’s new steel and aluminium tariffs are ostensibly an attack on perfidious foreigners but in fact will hurt all Americans © AFP

The European countermeasures aimed at 2.8 billion euros ($3.3 billion) of American imports come after Trump on June 1 followed through on his threat to impose tariffs on European steel and aluminium exports.

“Member states have today unanimously supported the commission’s plan for the adoption of rebalancing measures on the US tariffs on steel and aluminium,” a European Commission source told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The source added that the EU tariffs would take effect “in coming days”, with other officials saying they would be implemented by the beginning of July.

Brussels first drew up the list in March when Trump initially floated the 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, which also target Canada, Mexico and other close allies.

From blue jeans to motorbikes and whiskey, the EU’s hit-list of products targeted for tariffs with the US reads like a catalogue of emblematic American exports.

The list does not specifically name brands but European Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker spelled out in March that the bloc was “preparing import duties for US products including Harley-Davidson, bourbon and Levi’s jeans.”

– ‘Breeches of cotton denim’ –

The EU imported some 415 million euros’ worth from the US in 2017, along with another 150 million euros’ worth of whiskey without the “bourbon” designation.

Cranberries, cranberry juice, orange juice, sweetcorn and peanut butter are among the other food products targeted.

The list hits clothing including “trousers and breeches of cotton denim” along with bed linen and men’s leather footwear, eye make-up and lipsticks, plus a host of steel products.

“The EU will exercise its rights on US products valued at up to 2.8 billion euros of trade, as notified to the WTO (World Trade Organization),” the commission source added.

Transatlantic ties are at their lowest level for many years due to rows over a host of issues including the tariffs, the Paris climate agreement, the Iran nuclear deal and the new US embassy in Jerusalem.

But relations plumbed new depths at the weekend as Trump abruptly rejected the text of a G7 statement and bitterly insulted his Canadian host, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

Trump claimed America had been obliged to levy the metals tariffs as it has been exploited as the world’s “piggy bank” under existing arrangements.

His counterparts however said they were equally determined to protect “rules-based” international trade.

Trump’s outbursts were the latest in which he has clashed with America’s closest allies, even as he has had warm words for autocrats like North Korean leader Kim Jong un, with whom he had a historic meeting on Tuesday, and Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

by Danny KEMP

Trump Breaks Rules, but When Do We Start Winning?

June 14, 2018

He is in nonstop motion on North Korea, Iran and trade. What comes next?

President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after a signing ceremony during the summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island, Singapore, June 12.
President Donald J. Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un after a signing ceremony during the summit at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa Island, Singapore, June 12. PHOTO: KEVIN LIM/THE STRAITS TIMES/EPA-EFE/REX/SHUTTERSTOCK

In a press conference after his summit with Kim Jong Un, President Trump said: “Honestly, I think he’s going to do these things. I may be wrong. I mean, I may stand before you in six months and say, ‘Hey, I was wrong.’ I don’t know that I’ll ever admit that, but I’ll find some kind of an excuse.”

Can Donald Trump break every rule in the book and still win? With the North Korean nuclear threat, we are about to find out.

Mr. Trump successfully broke the rules of presidential campaigning. His defeat of Hillary Clinton was “unthinkable.” He has turned virtually the entire Washington press corps into a determined opposition and routinely calls on his own attorney general to resign.

No U.S. president has ever done these things. What has this approach produced?

Politically, it has provided his supporters the constant reassurance that he will fight for them in the most public way with anyone.

Mr. Trump’s most substantive legislative achievement is the 2017 tax cut. If he announced his retirement next week, history would record that his presidency gave the nation one of the most beneficial economies on record. In the U.S. today, there is work for virtually everyone.

The tax cut, however, was negotiated with Mitch McConnell, Paul Ryan and Kevin Brady, who should not be mistaken for Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin and Kim Jong Un.

This week in Singapore, President Trump greeted Mr. Kim in front of American and North Korean flags arrayed as equals, extended his hand in friendship four times before their private conversation, and when the summit was over said, “I do trust him.”

There are at least three arguments for Mr. Trump’s convivial approach to Kim Jong Un.

One is that his predecessors’ old-school diplomatic strategies toward North Korea manifestly failed. A second is that unlike Ronald Reagan’s nuclear negotiating partners in the Soviet Union, which was malign but rational, Kim Jong Un’s rule is solitary and whimsically homicidal. In early 2017, Mr. Kim executed five senior North Korean officials with an antiaircraft gun. There is arguably no alternative to Mr. Trump’s fake flattery of a nut case who possesses up to 60 nuclear bombs.

A last argument for Mr. Trump’s break-all-the-rules approach is that the clock is ticking. Mike Pompeo said in early 2017, when he was CIA director, that Mr. Kim’s scientists were probably within “a handful of months” of being able to produce a nuclear-armed ballistic missile that could survive re-entry into the Earth’s atmosphere. The best guess previously was that North Korea was years from this capability.

There is indeed a case for disruption and breaking the rules of international engagement. But to put it bluntly: When do we start winning?

Motion isn’t winning. It’s just motion. Mr. Trump’s unconstrained self-confidence is something to behold, such as his tweeting Wednesday, “There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea.” But self-belief cannot make the decades-old complexities of a North Korea simply go away.

After the summit, Mr. Trump made a major announcement about pulling back the U.S. troop presence in South Korea. Was there any planning behind that surprise?

It would be nice to believe that Secretary of State Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton have been working the back channels and that significant breakthroughs will emerge now. There is no evidence of that. Mr. Pompeo on Wednesday described a time-frame for disarmament of 21/2 years. It sounds as if we are back in the familiar foothills of the North Korean nuclear mountain.

In 2017, after Mr. Kim exploded the largest of his nuclear bombs so far, the Trump administration obtained U.N. sanctions that were squeezing North Korea. I think one of the main reasons Mr. Kim agreed to the summit was to get relief from those sanctions. Within hours of the summit, a statement by China made it clear the sanctions regime is going to erode during negotiations. Restoring that leverage will be impossible. It is a big loss.

The Iran nuclear-deal withdrawal was a good step, but what has become of it? State Department officials are attempting to gain Europe’s support for this decision at the same time that Mr. Trump is fighting the G-7 over trade.

Mr. Trump’s public trade battle with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and the Europeans is entertaining, and this week’s news that the U.S. is about to impose tariffs of tens of billions of dollars on China is provocative. But when should we expect a recognizable economic benefit for the U.S. to appear?

In dealing with foreign powers—North Korea, Iran, China, Europe, Mexico, Canada, Russia—we have been watching the attention-getting half of Mr. Trump’s improvisational negotiating model. Where’s the rest of it? When do we get the payoff for all this activity?

It isn’t just our show, either. America’s traditional Asian allies in Japan, India, Taiwan and elsewhere are calculating, with every U.S. statement or presidential tweet, whether to lean toward the U.S., China or even Russia.

Feeling good again about America matters. But in an unsentimental world, that isn’t the same as winning.


Appeared in the June 14, 2018, print edition as ‘When Do We Start Winning?.’