Money World trade: What will Donald Trump do?

15:52  13 january  2018
15:52  13 january  2018 Source:   BBC News

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What trade policies will Donald Trump adopt when it comes to China? Of all the questions hanging over world trade this year, none loom bigger than President Trump . The referendum vote to leave does in part fit into the wider picture of resentment about the consequences for globalisation – though

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Donald Trump: What trade policies will Donald Trump adopt when it comes to China?© Getty Images What trade policies will Donald Trump adopt when it comes to China? Of all the questions hanging over world trade this year, none loom bigger than President Trump.

For decades, the US was the biggest driving force behind moves to stimulate more international trade.

Now it's the most important sceptic.

So for 2018, the big question has to be: what can we expect from him, and other forces around the world that share his doubts about trade?

Confrontational again?

Perhaps the biggest single issue looking ahead is President Trump's hints that he might revert to his previous more confrontational approach to trade relations with China.

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What trade policies will Donald Trump adopt when it comes to China? Of all the questions hanging over world trade this year, none loom bigger than President Trump . Share the post " World trade : What will Donald Trump do ?"

January 11, 2018 Malik AwanLeave a Comment on World trade : What will Donald Trump do ? Image copyright Getty Images. Of all the questions hanging over world trade this year, none loom bigger than President Trump .

Eric Wyndham White (C), Director-General of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, holding a press conference, with the four world economy leaders (EEC, United-States, Great Britain and Japan) for the 'Kennedy round' (GATT) negotiations at the Villa Bocage in Geneva. 16 May 1967: GATT, among with institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, was one of the pillars of the post-Second World War world© Getty Images GATT, among with institutions such as the IMF and the World Bank, was one of the pillars of the post-Second World War world

During the election campaign Mr Trump spoke aggressively on trade, about US agreements and about some of the country's trading partners.

He made an early start on his agenda after taking office. One of his first acts was to withdraw the US from a trade agreement that had not come into force, the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

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Of all the questions hanging over world trade in 2018, none loom larger than Donald Trump 's attitude to it. weird news on puerto rico news of st john news outlets news ok news on hurricane irma o news network o news denver do news do newspapers get italicized do news bees sting do newspaper

He has started the renegotiation of another, the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) with Canada and Mexico that took effect in 1994, although he has so far stopped short of earlier threats to pull out of it altogether.

A mass of Hunger Marchers arrive in Hyde Park from all over Britain in protest against poverty and unemployment. November 1932:: Interwar trade barriers are now widely seen as having worsened the 1930s Great Depression© Getty Images Interwar trade barriers are now widely seen as having worsened the 1930s Great Depression Another proposed agreement that was under negotiation between the US and the European Union has gone into the deep freeze, perhaps permanently.

He also has serious doubts about the World Trade Organization. The United States' lack of enthusiasm was a central factor behind a lacklustre outcome at the WTO's conference in December.

It ended without new deals or even the usual agreed declaration of commitment to the system that the WTO manages.

Historic contrast

It is a striking contrast with the previous 70 years.

Since the late 1940s the trend has been one of reducing or removing barriers to cross-border commerce. The global effort took place first with the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) and then the WTO, which started work in 1995.

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Of all the questions hanging over world trade in 2018, none loom larger than Donald Trump 's attitude to it. weird news on puerto rico news of st john news outlets news ok news on hurricane irma o news network o news denver do news do newspapers get italicized do news bees sting do newspaper

World trade : What will Donald Trump do ? By Andrew Walker BBC World Service economics correspondent. Of all the questions hanging over world trade this year, none loom bigger than President Trump .

Ford workers Jasmine Powers (right) and Cassie Bell (left), install visors in the all-new 2018 Ford Expedition SUV at the Ford Kentucky Truck Plant October 27, 2017 in Louisville, Kentucky.: Workers on Ford assembly line: Mr Trump believes the US has lost jobs to countries like China© Getty Images Workers on Ford assembly line: Mr Trump believes the US has lost jobs to countries like China There has also been a proliferation of agreements between smaller groups of countries that provide deeper trade integration than the WTO.
Britain's Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union (Brexit Minister) David Davis leaves Downing street in London on December 18, 2017: The UK's Brexit Secretary David Davis: Depending on how UK-EU arrangements are finalised, Brexit could affect global trade© Getty Images The UK's Brexit Secretary David Davis: Depending on how UK-EU arrangements are finalised, Brexit could affect global trade The underlying idea was to avoid a repeat of the trade barriers that were erected in the 1930s, barriers that probably aggravated the Great Depression (though they were not the original cause of it).

There was also the idea, with strong roots in economic theory, that stimulating trade by reducing barriers to it would make all countries better off.

That said there is also plenty of economic analysis that suggests that some people within countries lose out. It's just that the gains are reckoned to exceed the losses.

Mr Trump represents a striking contrast to this approach.

He appears to believe that if you have a trade deficit - if you import more than you export - you are losing out. He looks at both the overall trade balance with the rest of the world and the bilateral balance with particular countries.

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World trade : What will Donald Trump do ? By Andrew Walker BBC World Service economics correspondent. Of all the questions hanging over world trade this year, none loom bigger than President Trump .

Donald Trump visit to London called off amid fears of mass protests. [10:52] World . Of all the questions hanging over world trade this year, none loom bigger than President Trump . For decades, the US was the biggest driving force behind moves to stimulate more international trade .

He is especially irked by the hefty deficits in US trade with China and Mexico, among others. He also regards trade as the cause of lost jobs in US industry.

All these points are controversial.

Economic theory

Most economists regard trade deficits and surpluses as being driven largely by saving and investment decisions.

A loaded container ship is seen at a port in Qingdao, eastern China's Shandong province on July 13, 2017: A container ships loads up in Qingdao, China: Seven of the world's 10 busiest ports are in China© Getty Images A container ships loads up in Qingdao, China: Seven of the world's 10 busiest ports are in China A country where investment is more than national saving has a trade deficit (strictly speaking it's the current account of the balance of payments which is in deficit - that's trade plus some financial transactions, including profits and income sent across international borders).

A large imbalance in the overall current account can certainly be troubling and has sometimes been a precursor to financial crises. But most economists think it makes much less sense to worry about individual bilateral deficits.

President Trump sees the deficits as evidence that the other country concerned is trading unfairly or that US policy in the past has been weak.

Many economists would also argue that trade is not the main cause of industrial job losses. Certainly there are many who agree it has contributed, but technology is thought by many to have had a bigger impact.

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President Trump's approach to that has moved over time.

Before he became president he threatened a 45% tariff on Chinese imports, yet in his first year in office he has been much more restrained in part out a desire for Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea.

US President Donald Trump (L) sits with Chinese President Xi Jinping (R) during a bilateral meeting at the Mar-a-Lago estate in West Palm Beach, Florida, on April 6, 2017.: President Trump and China's Xi Jinping: The biggest bilateral trade deficit the US has is with China© Getty Images President Trump and China's Xi Jinping: The biggest bilateral trade deficit the US has is with China But now he is unhappy with China, accusing Beijing of allowing oil to go to North Korea in breach of international sanctions.
Shipping containers are offloaded from a cargo ship at Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.: President Trump sees US trade deficits as evidence that the other country is trading unfairly© Getty Images President Trump sees US trade deficits as evidence that the other country is trading unfairly So there is a renewed possibility of serious trade conflict between the world's two largest economies.

Global Trade

More from the BBC's series taking an international perspective on trade:

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- Why demand for British wool is unravelling

- The new port trying to fulfil our shopping obsession

- What it takes to get Beyonce on a world tour

- Would you risk jail for a cup of tea?

International trade had already had seen some setbacks even before Donald Trump's arrival on the scene. It has been growing more slowly than it was before the 2008 financial crisis.

Over the preceding quarter of a century or so, the average growth in global trade was about 6%. In the last ten years it has been around half that, though it did pick up to 4.2% in 2017.

Brexit's impact:

Military-themed stamps displayed at a shop in central Pyongyang. North Korea. November 2017: US attitudes towards China are linked to the question of how best to deal with North Korea's nuclear ambitions© Getty Images US attitudes towards China are linked to the question of how best to deal with North Korea's nuclear ambitions Looking beyond 2018, the pattern of world trade may also be affected by Britain's departure from the European Union.

The referendum vote to leave does in part fit into the wider picture of resentment about the consequences for globalisation - though in the UK case it was more about migration than trade. Indeed the government implementing the referendum result is enthusiastic about trade seeing Brexit in terms of new global opportunities.

An aerial view of trucks queuing to cross from Mexico into California at the Otay Mesa port of entry on May 11, 2017 in San Diego, California: The Mexico-US border, San Diego, California: Mr Trump has started to renegotiate the existing Nafta trade deal© Getty Images The Mexico-US border, San Diego, California: Mr Trump has started to renegotiate the existing Nafta trade deal That said there could be a trade impact, if there are new barriers to commerce between the UK and the EU.

2018 looks like being an important year for global trade. Seventy years of increased global openness to trade won't be reversed, but it is certainly facing new challenges.

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