The CSS Blog Network

The Current State of the World Trading System and Its Likely Future

Image courtesy of chuttersnap/Unsplash.com

This speech was originally published by the Lowy Institute on 18 September 2019.

On 17 September 2019, the Lowy Institute hosted Ambassador Alan Wm Wolff, Deputy Director-General of the World Trade Organization, for a discussion of the risks and opportunities facing world trade at this decisive moment.

Mr Wolff became WTO Deputy Director-General in October 2017, after a long career in international trade, including as chief trade lawyer of the US executive branch, Chairman of the National Foreign Trade Council, as a senior US trade negotiator, and private law practitioner. He has served and advised both Republican and Democratic administrations.


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The US-Chinese Trade War Begins

Image courtesy of The White House/Flickr.

This article was originally published by YaleGlobal Online on 19 September 2018.

In his book Fear, journalist Bob Woodward suggests that Donald Trump’s protectionist instincts may be stronger than previously thought, preventing him from making commercial peace with traditional allies or trade partners. Recent actions against China leave no doubt. Yet, this is not simply the Trump administration directing “protectionist firepower” against China, to quote James Politi of the Financial Times. A geopolitical fight is also emerging about global technological leadership and US ambitions to contain China on this crucial frontier.

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Peace and War in Sino-America: Forget the Headlines and Follow the Trendlines for a Better World

Courtesy of www.GlynLowe.com/Flickr. (CC BY 2.0)

This article was originally published by Harvard International Review on 2 May 2017.

Throughout the 2016 presidential election, then candidate Donald Trump blasted China for its protectionist trade policies, currency manipulation, and several other accusations. Indeed, these accusations were not limited to Trump as China bashing is simply standard fare for anyone seeking elected office on campaign trails. Much of Trump’s campaign was however met with derision. As the election process unfolded, the derision soon turned to snickers. As the election continued, the snickers turned downright somber while he sailed past his Republican opponents Jeff Bush, Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, and others who had been deemed more likely GOP nominees.

Among the intelligentsia, the mood has turned to alarm as now President Trump has set out to do exactly as he had promised during his “America First” campaign. To show his sincerity to the campaign promise of bringing jobs back to the United States, he kicked off his first day in the Oval Office by issuing an Executive Order cancelling American participation in the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP). It was President Barack Obama’s signature trade deal creating a free-trade zone with eleven other nations for approximately 40 percent of the world’s economy. Trump also threatened to impose a 45-percent tariff on Chinese goods if China does not “behave” accordingly.

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Chinese Firm Planning a Canal Through Nicaragua Has PLA Ties

The proposed canal routes (red) crossing through Nicaragua. The Panama canal is marked blue. Image: Soefrm/Wikimedia

This article was originally published by Offiziere.ch on 5 December, 2014.

A Chinese company is preparing to begin work on the Nicaragua Interoceanic Canal. Once — and if — the canal is ever finished, it will size up to more than 170 miles (about 275 km) and connect the Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, with Lake Nicaragua in the middle. It’s a major project — larger than any other geo-engineering project underway in the world. Officially, it’s an opportunity for development championed by Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. But critics look at the canal as a boondoggle, and a means by which Ortega is developing a long-term relationship with Beijing — and China’s geopolitical interests. The builders of the canal also have important ties with the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA). » More

Why Australia Wants the UK to Stay in the EU

Parliament House Canberra

Parliament House in Canberra, Australia. Photo: JJ Harrison/Wikimedia Commons.

When the United Kingdom (UK) sought to join the European Economic Community (EEC) in the early 1970s, it stirred a backlash in Australia.  Because its prime exporters enjoyed easy access to the large British market, many feared a possible collapse would occur in bilateral trade.  Today, the debate over whether the UK should remain in the EU attracts few headlines in Australia. It is not a replay of the previous EEC debate. Nevertheless, a British “no” vote in the 2017 referendum could yet again have negative consequences for the economic relationship between the two countries.  This time, however, Australia wants the UK to stay in the grand ‘European Project’ rather than to stay out.

Much has clearly changed since the 1970s. Back then, Western Europe’s Common Customs Tariff and Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) represented substantial trade barriers for Australia’s major exporters. When the UK finally did join the EEC, Canberra not only lost its preferential access to an alternative export market, it also deepened its rift with Brussels. In the years that followed, Australia-EU relations therefore continued to suffer from ongoing trade disputes, several of which ended in international legal proceedings. » More

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