US Faces New Sino-Russian Challenges

The Trump Administration has embarked on an aggressive policy of trade and economic sanctions against countries it believes are politically unacceptable. America’s European allies are targeted by Dona

Published: 02nd September 2018 05:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 30th August 2018 10:46 PM   |  A+A-

The Trump Administration has embarked on an aggressive policy of trade and economic sanctions against countries it believes are politically unacceptable. America’s European allies are targeted by Donald Trump with trade sanctions and calls to spend more on defence, on the grounds that the US is doing the bulk of defence spending. Likewise, Canada is being subjected to pressures to renegotiate, or scrap the North-American Free Trade arrangement it has with the US and Mexico.

China is also facing massive sanctions. 
India is now confronted by a US complaint in the World Trade Organization against its export promotion schemes. This US complaint has been joined by China, Japan, the European Union and over a dozen other countries, from Brazil to Sri Lanka and Thailand. This is one of the most serious international economic challenges that India has faced. There would be serious consequences if it loses the case in the WTO, affecting Narendra Modi’s “Make in India” programme.

Recent American moves are also having an adverse impact on our national security. Just after India finalised action to acquire S-400 Air Defence Missiles from Russia, the US Congress enacted a  legislation, which would lead to countries facing American sanctions for purchasing arms from Russia. Following India’s objections, the legislation was amended, enabling the Trump Administration to grant waivers. The Americans are using such sanctions to promote their own arms exports. American sanctions against Iran are necessitating moves by India to look for other sources to meet its oil requirements.

Recent American moves, resuming sanctions on Iran, the imposition of tariffs on exports of steel and aluminum by allies such as Germany and partners such as India, have evoked strong reactions and counter-moves by those affected. The most wide-ranging American trade sanctions are against China, with whom the US has a total trade of $634 billion annually and a mammoth trade deficit of $370 billion. 

China believes it can call the US bluff and settle the issue bilaterally. But, Trump’s policies are leading to growing American isolation. His European allies such as Germany and France appear ready to challenge him on issues of trade, and in the NATO alliance on sanctions on Iran. Recent joint military exercises involving defence forces of China, Mongolia and Russia suggest that Russia and China intend to cooperate across Eurasia, to challenge American moves.

With Russia now seeking a greater role in Afghanistan, by inviting countries in Afghanistan’s neighbourhood to promote “reconciliation” with the Taliban, there is clearly a strong diplomatic push to contain American power in Asia. External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman are scheduled to jointly meet their American counterparts shortly in Delhi. The growing challenges that US now faces globally should be used by our ministers to ask the US to clear the air on issues such as sanctions on our arms imports from Russia, the Chabahar Port in Iran being built by us, trade issues before the WTO and on Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in India and Afghanistan.dadpartha@gmail.com

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