Definition of the Key Term
Matters regarding trade barriers have taken center stage in global politics in the wake of the United States’ President Trump’s protectionist policies. Trade barriers restrict the purchase and sale of products and services across borders. These are government-levied restrictions imposed on trade with specific countries, usually intended to protect domestic producers or to send out a message to certain countries (Lexicon, n.d.).
Many writers and columnists have commented on the topic, but few have expounded on the matter as exhaustively as The Economist article “What might a trade war between America and China look like?” The article explains the looming tariffs race between China and the U.S. Of particular concern are China’s trade anomalies. According to President Trump, the irregularities have cost the U.S. jobs and intellectual property (The Economist, 2017). The irregularities that the U.S. accuse China of include currency devaluation, subsidies, and flooding some American markets with cheap imports.
There is concern over how the Trump administration will address these issues without causing a vicious trade war. The Obama administration tried to address the matter legally through cases filed at the World Trade Organization (WTO), which are yet to be resolved. Meanwhile, America’s trade is the loser. The current administration had two options: enforcing rule-based negotiations at WTO or impose a 45% tariff on Chinese imports, which too violates WTO rules. Any of these measures will elicit countermeasures from China. Taxing Chinese imports would force China to do the same against American imports. Suing China for dumping would also lead the Chinese to retaliate by finding health and safety problems with American food exports. The outcome of any of these measures would hurt the American consumer, especially the poorer ones.
The article explains the complicated nature of trade barriers. While identifying the barriers is easy, addressing them through countermeasures opens up the chances of a prolonged trade war. Trade barriers, therefore, affect consumers in the countries in conflict. It also affects the bilateral relationships between the countries, and therefore, a democratic solution is necessary to end or mitigate the problem.
Hodgson, C. (2018, May 24). UK-Ireland trade would fall 10% due to non-tariff barriers – CBI. Financial Times. Retrieved from https://www.ft.com/content/45ecceaa-5e7f-11e8-ad91-e01af256df68 (paywall)
In this article Hodgson explains trade barriers that are caused by tariffs. These can also equally detrimental. Illustrating how non-tariff barriers adversely affect trade volumes, Hodgson considers the example of Ireland and the UK, where post-Brexit non-tariff barriers could reduce trade between the two countries by approximately 10%. These barriers include new or changed customs procedures and paperwork, among others. The absence of tariff barriers in this case is not making the situation any better. Slow markets and companies relocating are posing significant trade barriers. There is also the looming likelihood of Britain being left out of the European Trade deals and as such having to deal with tariffs imposed on non-European Union countries.
Krasny, R., & Chandra, S. (2018, April 08). Trump predicts China will be first to buckle in trade dispute. Bloomberg. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-04-08/trump-vows-that-china-will-take-down-its-trade-barriers
Krasny and Chandra shed light into the looming trade war between China and U.S. in this article. The effects of this expectations are adversely felt by the financial markets with the S&P index loosing 1.4%. The Trump administration, however, remains optimistic and continues to predict that China would buckle first, it is quite likely to go ahead with imposing the tariffs against China. The dispute between the two economic giants involves the U.S. considering imposing tariffs of Chinese goods worth approximately $150 billion. China, on the other hand, has proposed excise duties on $50 billion U.S products. The Chinese reaction was to U.S. taxing steel and aluminum imports.
Lexicon. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://lexicon.ft.com/Term?term=trade-barrier
The Eonomist. (2017, Feb 05). What might a trade war between America and China look like? Economist.com. Retrieved from https://www.economist.com/the-economist-explains/2017/02/05/what-might-a-trade-war-between-america-and-china-look-like?zid=295&ah=0bca374e65f2354d553956ea65f756e0