Trump, Turkey, Tariffs And The State Of Global Trade
With Budd Mishkin
Washington slaps tariffs on Turkey. The Trump administration’s trade fights, using national security as the justification. We’ll dig in.
Piotr Zalewski, Turkey correspondent for The Economist. (@p_zalewski)
Jennifer Hillman, professor of practice at the Georgetown University Law Center. She served on the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Appellate Body. She was a trade negotiator and then General Counsel with the Office of the United States Trade Representative in the Clinton administration. (@JAHillmanGULaw)
Phil Levy, senior fellow on the global economy at The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. He served as senior economist for trade for President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, and then as a member of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s Policy Planning Staff. (@philipilevy)
From The Reading List
New York Times: “Trump’s National Security Claim for Tariffs Sets Off Crisis at W.T.O.” — “President Trump’s embrace of sweeping tariffs has frustrated allies, lawmakers and businesses across the globe. But its most lasting impact could be to hobble the World Trade Organization.
“The global trade group has been thrust into an uncomfortable — and potentially damaging — role as chief judge in an intense fight among its most powerful members.
“At the center of the battle is whether the United States’ claim that its sweeping steel and aluminum tariffs are necessary to protect national security or whether they are simply a ruse to protect American metal manufacturers from global competition. Allies like Canada, Mexico and the European Union have challenged Mr. Trump’s tariffs at the World Trade Organization, saying their metals pose no threat to America’s national security. They have fired back with their own retaliatory tariffs, prompting the Trump administration to bring its own World Trade Organization complaints against those countries.”
Forbes: “Trump Tops Up Tariffs With Tweet As Turkey Teeters” — “Heading into Friday, Turkey was careening toward economic crisis. Its stock market and currency had both fallen dramatically this year while inflation and borrowing costs rose. Then, President Trump decided to give the country an additional shove, tweeting that he had authorized a doubling of tariffs on Turkish steel and aluminum exports. For those wondering whether the President was likely to back off from or press on with his assault on the traditional rules of the international economic order, this is strong evidence for the latter.”
Foreign Policy: “You Live in Robert Lighthizer’s World Now” — “Last month, U.S. President Donald Trump’s trade representative, Robert Lighthizer, sat through two hours of grilling by Congress, fending off grievances about the Trump trade war’s effects on Alaskan salmon, Maine lobsters, and Delaware chickens. “Nobody is declaring war on Canada,” Lighthizer protested, even as he conceded that the use of Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act to levy tariffs on steel and aluminum was premised indirectly on assessing that country as a national security threat. When pushed on whether he had this assessment vetted by the National Security Council, he demurred that doing so was the Commerce Department’s responsibility, not his own.
“Lighthizer’s performance was consumed by such efforts to smooth the ruffled feathers of his congressional inquisitors. Mostly, this involved assuring lawmakers that progress has been made in negotiations with the European Union and trade partners such as Mexico and Canada, and dispelling the impression that new tariffs on China had “stirred up a hornet’s nest of problems in other parts of the world with trusted allies,” as one congressperson put it. And yet it would be a mistake to attribute Lighthizer’s obsequious performance to a lack of self-confidence. The trial lawyer known for having a life-sized portrait of himself in his home has never lacked for the latter. And unlike most others in the Trump administration, he has known what he wants to achieve, and how, from his first day in office.”
Wall Street Journal: “U.S. Takes Trade Fight to Smaller Nations” — “The White House push to confront rivals over trade has spread beyond the world’s biggest economies such as China and Europe to include poorer countries that also see the U.S. as a critical market for their goods.
“Since President Trump took office 18 months ago, the U.S. Trade Representative has launched wide-ranging reviews of the eligibility of less-developed countries for a federal government program that lowers tariffs for thousands of the products they export to the U.S.”
Trouble in Turkey. The Turkish currency, the lira, is sinking. The stock market reacts. Investors are nervous. Will the troubles spread to other emerging markets? On top of that, the United States hit Turkey with new tariffs last Friday, just one of the Trump administration’s many trade battles. And the president is unhappy with the referee in these dealings, the World Trade Organization.
This hour, On Point: Turkey in crisis, tariffs, Trump and the WTO — and what does all of it mean for you.
— Budd Mishkin
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