Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Wednesday December 12, 2018
Trump’s trade war bluster over China is rattling the world
The sharp rise of the Dow Jones industrial average since Donald Trump’s election as president in November 2016 is something he and his supporters often cite to show how he has helped the economy — and how, despite his divisive style, Trump’s tax cuts and regulation reductions have been good for America. But the president’s bluster about trade wars — “I am a Tariff Man” — and the important U.S.-China relationship has so far fuelled only chaos. Consider this week. The Dow dropped 799 points Tuesday then had a wilder day on Thursday, closing down 79 points after falling as much as 784 points.
There’s been global fallout since Saturday, when Trump asserted that Chinese President Xi Jinping had caved in his trade war with the U.S. Trump said he’d cut an “incredible” deal in which China would drop a 40 per cent import duty on American cars in return for the U.S. dropping a planned increase in tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese exports.
Initially, markets around the planet were thrilled by the news — a trade war between Earth’s two biggest economies creates headaches for nearly everyone. But as it became clear that Xi had only agreed to a 90-day truce on trade issues — not remotely what Trump claimed — investors panicked. The Dow has fallen by 2,000 points from its 2018 high, wiping out nearly all of its gains for the year. Adding to investors’ worries: the news that Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of the giant Chinese tech firm Huawei, had been arrested by Canadian authorities at the U.S. Justice Department’s behest, reportedly because of Huawei’s breaking sanctions by doing business with Iran.
Given that she is the daughter of Huawei’s founder, Ren Zhengfei, who is revered in China for creating a tech behemoth that is a legitimate rival to U.S. firms, Beijing’s sharp reaction to her arrest was no surprise. But the arrest only underscored the valid reasons that Washington has for being upset with China’s trade practices. China tramples on laws and agreements it doesn’t like, not just by trading with international sponsors of terrorism and subsidizing exports but by aggressively stealing intellectual property and business secrets from U.S. tech firms. Trump has a case when he says his predecessors let Beijing get away with awful behaviour.
But it’s his problem now. He has stated that “trade wars are great and easy to win.” It’s easy to declare nonexistent wins. It’s far more difficult to stabilize the strategically vital relationship between Washington and Beijing with the care and thoughtfulness it demands — and the world needs. (Source: San Diego Union-Tribune)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Tuesday December 4, 2018
Donald Trump threatens to kill NAFTA in push for Congress to approve new trade deal
U.S. President Donald Trump says he will withdraw the United States from NAFTA “in the not-too-distant future” in a hardball attempt to pressure Congress into voting to approve his new agreement with Canada and Mexico.
The original North American Free Trade Agreement would otherwise remain in place if Congress rejected or delayed the new agreement, which Trump calls the USMCA and Canada calls CUSMA or “the new NAFTA.” A Trump withdrawal would give Congress a take-it-or-leave-it choice between the new agreement — which is highly similar to the original — and no agreement at all.
The new agreement has been criticized on various grounds by both Democrats and Republicans, leaving its prospects for passage uncertain. The Democrats, who will take control of the House of Representatives in January, have made clear that they do not plan to approve the deal any time soon.
Trump’s announcement late Saturday introduced new uncertainty into the continental trading relationship just a day after the leaders of the three countries held a signing ceremony for the new agreement, at which Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the agreement “lifts the risks of serious economic uncertainty” that hovered over the negotiations themselves. Trump’s words suggested the state of bilateral trade will remain uncertain as long as the president is in office.
Advocates of free trade say a withdrawal would be a foolish gamble with the American economy. Trump has said he doesn’t see it that way, since he believes the economy was stronger without NAFTA than it is with it.
“Congress will have a choice of the USMCA or pre-NAFTA, which worked very well,” Trump told reporters on the flight back from the G20 summit in Argentina.
“Congress will have a choice of approving the USMCA, which is a phenomenal deal. Much, much better than NAFTA. A great deal, ” he said. He again described NAFTA as a “disaster,” although the new deal he calls “incredible” retains almost all of NAFTA’ s central features while making a smattering of substantial changes.
The Canadian government declined to comment on the record. An official said on condition of anonymity, “ We are focused on our domestic ratification process and not a process that is internal to the U.S.”
Trump’s announcement is likely to displease businesses across the continent, which have hailed the new agreement for preserving tariff-free North American trade and for allowing them to make investment plans with some degree of confidence that the rules will not soon change.
It is unclear whether Trump has the power to actually withdraw the U.S. from NAFTA. Some experts say he does, some say he doesn’t. The move would undoubtedly be challenged in U.S. courts, which have not yet weighed in on the question.
A Canadian government official told the Star last year that they have concluded “there’s a pretty good chance that he could just do this.” The official said the government also believed the old Canada-U.S. Free Trade Agreement, which preceded NAFTA, would snap back into force if he did.
Others say it would not be so simple.
It is also unclear whether Trump will indeed proceed. Trump has repeatedly delivered trade threats he has not carried out, and his aides — joined by Trudeau — have talked him out of withdrawing from NAFTA before. He has sometimes appeared to use harsh trade rhetoric primarily to appeal to parts of his political base, and his tough talk on Saturday came immediately after he announced that he had taken a conciliatory stance in a trade meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping, postponing a plan to increase tariffs on Chinese products. (Source: Toronto Star)
Editorial Cartoon by Graeme MacKay, The Hamilton Spectator – Friday November 30, 2018
USMCA signing could be overshadowed by larger divisions between nations at G20
Officials don’t know yet who will sign the pact. And they haven’t said exactly when, or where, it’s going to happen.
But when the G20 summit in Buenos Aires is over, the leaders of Canada, the United States and Mexico are supposed to be coming home with a newly signed trade agreement.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Wednesday his government was “still in discussions” with Washington about the timing and circumstances of the official United States–Mexico–Canada Agreement signing event. At any rate, it may turn out to be a hold-your-nose moment for the Trudeau government, which had hoped to see U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum lifted before signing day.
The chances that the tariffs will even be discussed at the summit, let alone lifted, are so slim that a source tells CBC News that Canada’s ambassador to the U.S. isn’t even going to Argentina.
David MacNaughton has been a key leader for the Canadian trade negotiating team, but he will not be present for the anticipated signing ceremony, or for any sideline talks with the Americans in Buenos Aires.
While the USMCA signing will be big news in Canada when it happens, it’s likely to be overshadowed by the larger global divisions on display at the G20.
The official agenda will see leaders discussing different approaches to sustainable and fair growth for the global economy. But these conversations come at a time when confidence in multilateral institutions is declining.
The Americans have been at the centre of two summits that ended in diplomatic disaster in this year alone.
Most recently, the APEC summit in Papua New Guinea ended without a communique, as trade frustrations between the U.S. and China flared.
In June, the G7 summit in Charlevoix, Quebec ended with President Trump pulling his support for the communique and lashing out at Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, calling him “weak.” (Source: CBC)
In the aftermath of the death of former U.S. President George H. W Bush, editorial cartoonists are creating obit cartoons and reposting old cartoons from when he was president from 1989 to 1993. While a few of my drawings (here and here) included Bush Sr. in editorial cartoons during his son’s Presidency, I was a university student at the time when he was at the helm, and submitting cartoons to campus newspaper, The Fulcrum. Back then my political cartooning was in the form of a wordy, densely illustrated weekly comic strip called Alas & Alack. In November 1989, Bush had been President for less than a year, leading in the shadow of his predecessor, Ronald Reagan, at a time monumental changes were happening in the world, among them the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the cold war. At the time the President seemed desperate to put his own mark on history. With references to Ronald Reagan, Leonid Breshnev, JFK, and even Donald Trump.