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Most Important US Trading Partners by Rank

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This graphic maps and ranks the US’ most important trading partners by trade volume. For an analysis of how this ranking is reflected in the Trump administration’s approach to trade policy, read Jack Thompson’s new Strategic Trends 2019 chapter here. For more CSS charts, maps and graphics on economics, click here.

China and the Last of the Multilateralists

Image courtesy of Lekies/pixabay

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 3 October 2018. 

As the trade war between China and the United States heats up, Europeans should think hard about who they turn to for assistance 

In the early years of Xi Jinping’s presidency, China became increasingly assertive. It challenged neighbours and irksome international rules, while painting its behaviour as a measured response to other states’ mischief. Beijing lashed out at what it called Japan’s “militarism”; the “wrongful” deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system in South Korea; “unfair” international arbitration on territorial claims in the South China Sea; the European Union’s “protectionist” view of China’s market economy status; Indian “provocations” on the Chinese border; and, of course, the United States’ “threatening” presence in East Asia. In reality, China insisted that status quo powers accept policies on its terms, while it became ever more unpredictable in its dealings with them. Europe learned this the hard way – through botched summits, interrupted or delayed dialogues, constant Chinese attempts to divide the EU, and Beijing’s sweeping disregard for implementing joint agendas and addressing European complaints.

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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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From Policy to Populism: Donald Trump’s Trade Policy in Global Context

Image courtesy of The White House/Flickr.

This article was originally published by the Elcano Royal Institute on 10 April 2018.

Theme

An open multilateral trade system is under direct challenge from the policies of President Donald Trump. The year 2018 will be crucial.

Summary

This paper reviews US trade policy one year on after the election of Donald Trump. It demonstrates that after a year of exacerbating transactionalist and protectionist rhetoric we are now in a position to observe the direction policy is taking in practice. Sadly, it is becoming clear that practice is indeed matching rhetoric. The evidence is gathering. Commencing with withdrawal from the TPP, policy has hardened towards an open multilateral system. The year 2018 has seen attacks on the WTO (stopping appointments to the Appellate Board), followed by moves to introduce tariffs on white goods, aluminium and steel and a strategy for direct activity towards China. The year will also see a hard line towards NAFTA re-negotiations. The prospects of enhanced trade tension –trade war, even– is the obvious next stage flowing from Trump’s policy. Major players are likely to retaliate.

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Europe in the German Federal Elections: What Do the Manifestos Say?

Image courtesy of Thomas Dämmrich/Flickr. (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

This article was originally published by the European Council on Foreign Relations (ECFR) on 26 July 2017.

Here we compare the parties’ positions on the four core EU policy domains: common security and defence, migration, financial, and trade policy.

How does Europe feature in the German elections? How do Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats (CDU), Martin Schulz’ social democrats (SPD), the Greens (Bündnis90/Die Grünen), the business-friendly free democrats (FDP), the left party (Die Linke), and the right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) aim to reshape four core EU policy domains: common security and defence, migration, financial and trade policy? A comparison of their election manifestos provides some first answers to these questions.

Nearly all established parties running for the coming Bundestagswahl on 24 September have adopted a narrative that combines a pro-European outlook with an emphasis on the need for European reforms. Only the Eurosceptic AfD bucks the trend with its calls for a ‘Dexit’ referendum.

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