31 May 2018   Leave a comment

The US imposed tariffs today on imports of aluminum and steel from from Canada, Mexico and the European Union.   For weeks it has been unclear whether President Trump would follow through on the threat of tariffs, but they were imposed using the trade exemptions offered by a national security clause in US tariff laws.  It is hard to believe that Canada, Mexico, and Europe are national security threats to the US and the tariffs are clearly inconsistent with the trading rules which have guided foreign economic policy for the US since 1945.   The tariffs will undoubtedly lead to retaliatory tariffs by the affected countries.  According to some economists, the 150,000 jobs that will be protected by the tariffs will be offset by the loss of nearly 2 million jobs due to higher costs for steel and aluminum, components of many products manufactured in the US.  The heat of the matter was best expressed by Justin Trudeau, the Prime Minister of Canada:

“‘Let me be clear: These tariffs are totally unacceptable,’ Trudeau said. ‘Canadians have served alongside Americans in two world wars and in Korea. From the beaches of Normandy to the mountains of Afghanistan, we have fought and died together.’

“Noting that Canada purchases more U.S. steel than any other nation, Trudeau lambasted the Trump administration for initiating the tariffs under the guise of confronting a threat to national security.

“‘Canada is a secure supplier of aluminum and steel to the U.S. defense industry, putting aluminum in American planes and steel in American tanks,’ Trudeau said. ‘That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States is inconceivable.’

“‘These tariffs are an affront to the long-standing security partnership between Canada and the United States, and in particular, to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside American comrades-in-arms.'”

Trade as a Percentage of US GDP

 

Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy is likely to lose a confidence vote in the Spanish Parliament tomorrow as the Basque Nationalist Party (PNV) indicated it would support a vote of no-confidence.  If the motion passes, then it is likely that Pedro Sánchez, leader of the Socialist Party will become Prime Minister.  Rajoy has been implicated in a corruption scandal within his party as Spanish voters have indicated their disdain for the traditional parties over the last few years leading to the emergence of new parties such as Podemos and Ciudadanos.  If the Spanish government falls, then it will amplify the current political turmoil in Italy on the stability of the European Union.

 

The United Nations has announced an agreement with the government of Myanmar to work toward the return of about 700,000 Royinghas who fled the country because of persecution at the hands of the Buddhist majority population.  The Royinghas are a minority Muslim group in the western province of Rakhine who have lived in the region for many years.  But the Myanmar government does not grant the Royinghas legal status in the country because it regards them as immigrants from neighboring Bangladesh.  The atrocities committed against the Royinghas have largely been ignored by the international community, but they clearly constitute a crime against humanity. 

Posted May 31, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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