Now-President Donald Trump has for decades been decrying the very bad international deals – trade and otherwise – that the United States has for decades been cutting. He ran for and won the Presidency – in no small part because of his infusion of this reality into the reality-free world of DC politics and policy.
In 1987 – undoubtedly as a part of his public relations campaign to promote his then-new book “The Art of the Deal” – Trump placed $100,000 advertisements in The New York Times and other newspapers decrying the bad global agreements of all sorts to which we were subjecting ourselves.
In 1988, Trump was asked about it on “The Oprah Winfrey Show.” He in part responded:
“We let Japan come in and dump everything right into our markets. It’s not fair trade. If you ever go to Japan right now and try to sell something – forget about it, Oprah, just forget about it. It’s almost impossible….
“They come over here, they sell their cars, their VCRs – and they knock the hell out of our companies. And hey – I have tremendous respect for the Japanese people. You can respect someone that’s beating the hell out of you. But they are beating the hell out of this country.”
Trump wasn’t wrong. He still isn’t. And he hasn’t been at any point in between.
Over and over and over again, the U.S. has signed “free trade” deals where we eliminate or reduce as many government impediments as we possibly can to others nations’ imports – and next-to-no other nations ever reciprocate. They keep in place all sorts of taxes, tariffs and regulatory barriers – because they’re not the America Last-esque fools we are.
It seems every nation on the planet – save ours – grasps the rudimentary concept that if you make it less attractive to create jobs in your country – fewer and fewer job creators will create jobs in your country. Those gig producers – will readily head elsewhere. And in the U.S. – they have. They’ve spent the last several decades – fleeing here in droves.
Another facet of the domestic-preference discussion – is government subsidies. The more governments engage in this domestic cronyism – the greater the advantage their companies have on the global market.
To wit: Brazil and sugar. Brazil’s government gives Brazil’s sugar industry roughly $4-billion-per-year in direct and indirect subsidies. Which – when Brazil’s sugar goes global – cripples the international marketplace, to Brazil’s obvious advantage.
More than 100 nations export sugar. Brazil controls almost half of the entire global market – because they have that $4-billion-government-cronyism head start.
We have for years been pointing out – that that’s more than a mite unequal. It certainly ain’t anything even remotely resembling fair or free trade. We have long been calling for an all-nations disarmament on all things government impediment to actual free trade – subsidies included:
“‘Yo Brazil – you get rid of that subsidy, we’ll get rid of this one. Hey Mexico – you get rid of that tariff, we’ll get rid of this one.’”
Lather rinse, repeat. Again, and again, and….
Think it won’t work? For years, we haven’t known – because we haven’t tried.
Trump has for decades rightly pointed out that we – with our $18-trillion-1/4-of-the-entire-planet’s-economy economy – are the 800-pound gorilla in the trade room. But we have again and again negotiated – like we’re a mouse cowering in the corner.
Candidate Trump promised to throw around our considerable weight. President Trump has started doing so. Think it won’t work?
EU, Brazil Ready for Farm Subsidy Reform: “The European Union and Brazil will tell the World Trade Organization on Monday they are prepared to shake up generous farm subsidies to reform a global trade landscape that is widely seen as being stacked against emerging countries, POLITICO Europe reports.
“The politically inflammatory topic of agricultural subsidies has proven to be a stumbling point in the WTO’s attempts to create an overarching architecture for international trade. The EU has a broadly liberalizing trade agenda and wants to slash subsidies that obstruct the efficient flow of goods around the world and block big free trade deals.
“Brussels, however, is also a big farm subsidizer and lavishes 40 percent of its budget on agricultural payments, which the world’s poorer nations say makes it impossible for them to compete. Developing countries also protest that global financial institutions consistently advise them to avoid paying subsidies themselves.
“Such frustrations boiled over earlier this year when former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan quipped: “The European Union pays enough subsidies to fly each cow in Europe around the world first class and still have money left over.”
Oh look: Big Sugar Brazil – and the EU – are suddenly open to “shake up generous farm subsidies to reform a global trade landscape….”
Even the ridiculous United Nations’ former Secretary General – has now taken to ridiculing the anti-trade uber-subsidies that are warping-beyond-reason the international market.
Looks like – Trump’s approach is working. Decades’ worth of “that will never happen” – is now happening inside of six Trump months.
Fair, actually free trade – means less government. On all sides – in every possible way.
Trump has long understood this empirical reality. The rest of the planet – is now, finally being called on to acquiesce to it.