02 October 2018
“We will prevail.” This has become the mantra in Washington and Beijing as relations between the two largest economies in the world careen down the path of a full-blown trade war.
As damaging as a trade war will be for the global economy, it is arguably part of a volatile sequence of events that suggests the US and China are sliding precariously into a new Cold War, the portents of which extend far beyond the rectification of the American balance of trade.
With trade tensions having built up over the years, a trade war was eventually triggered by United States President Donald Trump in July, when tariffs on a total of US$50 billion (S$68.5 billion) worth of Chinese exports were announced. The initial move was met in equal measure by China. Since then, matters have escalated at an alarming pace. A new round of tariffs was imposed on Sept 17 on another US$200 billion worth of Chinese imports. If Mr Trump has his way, tariffs on a further US$267 billion worth of goods loom large, casting a long shadow over the global economy.
It is widely recognised that the US trade deficit of US$375 billion with China lies at the core of America’s current protectionist impulse. Unfair Chinese trade practices were already the subject of blistering criticism by Mr Trump on the campaign trail. But unlike his predecessors, whom he routinely accused of being soft on China, Mr Trump prides himself as a president who has demonstrated the resolve to raise his head above the parapet and walk the talk.
… Joseph Chinyong Liow is dean of the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences and dean of the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Nanyang Technological University.
RSIS / Online / Print
Last updated on 02/10/2018