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Asian Tribune is published by World Institute For Asian Studies|Powered by WIAS Vol. 12 No. 2368

“The US is a Piggy Bank that Everyone Keeps Robbing,” says President Trump

Hemantha Abeywardena writes from London…

As the G-7 - or as some started calling it G-6 + 1, visualizing a hypothetical isolation of the US at it – got underway in Canada, President Trump maintained his defiance over the tariff that he introduced on steel and aluminium, against both neighbours and distant allies of the US, portraying the latter as a victim of unfair trading practices – for decades.

Just before the departure to meet Mr Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, in Singapore, President Trump summarized his frustration over the complaints made by the allies over the tariff on steel and aluminium: “the US is a piggy bank that everyone keeps robbing.”

As the leaders of the European Union and Canada collectively criticised the move while temporarily abandoning their own division within the blocks, President Trump dropped yet another bombshell at the G-7 summit: calling for the complete removal of barriers and tariffs altogether, but with a thinly-veiled caveat – no subsidies.

In short, Mr Trump wants the global trade to be free from all forms of restrictions and appeared to be willing to lead the path less travelled, provided that government subsidies come to an end in all forms – a bitter pill to swallow for most of the leaders of the world’s richest nations.

For instance, It’s simply unthinkable that President Macron turned off the tap of subsidies to French farmers: first of all, it is impossible at national level, as it comes under the Common Agricultural Policy – CAP – of the European Union, formulated in 1962; then, the French farmers are notoriously militant and any attempt to curb the privileges would trigger off mass unrest across the country, bringing the latter to a standstill.

Despite the rhetoric, European leaders do not seem to be showing an appetite to take on the US in a tit-for-tat trade war; the items chosen for retaliatory measures speak for themselves: peanut butter, Harley Davidson motorbikes and Levis Jeans!

The feeble response from the European Union over the steel tariff, does not seem to be the only factor that emboldens President Trump to stick to his guns, with come what may attitude; whatever his critics say, the US economy, judging by many vital indicators, is surging ahead, perhaps in response to major tax cuts, improved global security, deregulation of rules and growing business confidence.

The civilian unemployment rate, for instance, is just 3.8%, the lowest since 2000. Moreover, 230,000 jobs have been added just in May this year. The stock market, meanwhile, shows a healthy upward trend on many fronts.

The following chart shows how the unemployment fluctuated during the following decades; you can move the indicator at the bottom using the mouse to see the trend over the past few decades:

Throughout the presidential campaign, President Trump maintained that the US has been taken advantage by both allies and foes alike. There is nothing to indicate that he has deviated from that position despite the several meetings he had with world leaders since he took office.

As President Trump came under fire from the allies, he made certain announcements as if he were looking for new allies at the expense of the old; for instance, he twice repeated that President Putin should have been at the G-7 representing Russia; then, his eagerness to meet the North Korean leader to strike a deal and bring about peace in the Korean Peninsula.

Although, he may not be a superstar on the global political front, tide against him appears to be finally turning in the opposite direction: a recent nation-wide poll indicated that more than 52% Americans approve of his handling of the US economy. In addition, his core support base remains intact regardless of the bad publicity in the media at personal level.

President Trump’s unconventional approach in politics, ranging from early morning Tweets to not-very-diplomatic fallouts, appears to be working in his favour despite what critics say otherwise.

His plain-speaking style and short speeches filled with off-script lines are finally winning him admirers, as people, in general, are tired of jargon-filled, disproportionately diplomatic speeches – often written by speech writers for sound bites.

In this context, all eyes are on President Trump’s historic meeting with Mr Kim Jong-un on Tuesday in Singapore. Perhaps, against all odds, he may pull off a deal to surprise us all, as both sides seem to be keen on making one – by reading between the lines, of course.

- Asian Tribune -

“The US is a Piggy Bank that Everyone Keeps Robbing,” says President Trump
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