The Western axis led by the US is in tatters. US President Donald Trump has been provoking his allies for some time, but in recent days the skulduggery has reached new peaks. Trump started with a vicious attack on Canadian PM Justin Trudeau calling him a ‘liar’. His stopover at Quebec for the G-7 Summit, the rich nations club, was no different where in a fit of pique Trump refused to sign the joint communiqué. There were disputes on trade, and security; and the photograph released by the German chancellor’s office with Donald Trump, arms folded, glaring into the distance seemingly being confronted by German leader Angela Merkel, summed it all up.
But it’s not all insults and irrationality. The US president, despite strong domestic opposition, is implementing his election promise of ‘America First’. Trump’s grouse is that all nations, including his closest allies, have exploited ‘free’ trade at the expense of the American people. Canada generates a trade surplus of over $100 billion, Trump claims, but levies a massive 270 per cent tariff on US dairy products.
Charging the world for having benefited from America’s $800 billion trade deficit, he is now determined to erect tariff and other trade barriers for improving the lot of US “farmers, workers and taxpayers”. This is disputed though by EU nations, who in a joint statement said: “... the EU invests more in the US, buys more American services and employs more American workers than the other way around.”
Lashing out at India too, Trump claimed New Delhi was imposing 100 per cent tariff on various US products and threatened to cut trade ties. While we can discount some of the bluster, the fact is the US, the largest importer in the world, is on the way to erecting increasing trade barriers which will make a wide variety of Indian goods including textiles, gems and jewellery and engineering products more difficult to export to the US. With lower export earnings and higher oil import bills, Trump’s moves are likely to impact India’s growth prospects negatively.