Ever since Donald Trump started his election campaign, he has been vocal regarding his seven-point trade plan to “Make America Great Again” and how he will stop China’s “illegal activities, including its theft of American trade secrets”.
It was only a matter of time before he would implement his plans as the President of US. The recent turn of events suggests that the moment has arrived.
Trump has announced plans of importing duties of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum. In January, he had imposed duties of 30% on solar panels and 20-50% on washing machines.
The announcement jolted markets. Steel stocks jumped on the news, while automakers retracted. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index and Dow Jones Industrial Average remained down on Friday.
However, one market that seems the least flabbergasted by this move has been the Chinese Steel.
“There are more common interests [between China and the US] than differences so co-operation is the only option for both countries,” Chinese vice foreign minister Zhang Yesui was quoted saying.
Zhang, however, made it very clear that their silence shouldn’t be mistaken as their weakness and warned that “we will not sit idly by and will take necessary measures if the US hurts China’s interests”.
Additionally, many analysts have noted that the Trump administration’s punitive measures against steel and aluminum will affect traditional US allies more than China.
Moreover, it isn’t only the Chinese market that’s set to be affected by US’s policies. Trump has warned India to slash its trade surplus with the US. In Washington, Indian and US officials have agreed to trim the trade surplus based on comparative advantage.
Trump had earlier criticized India for imposing a high import tax on Harley-Davidson motorcycles. He had said the US charges no tax on Indian bike imports, and that India’s new tax was an example of “unfair” trade practices.
The US president had in February said that the country must impose “reciprocal taxes” to fight back.
Taking a dig at Narendra Modi, Trump spoke about Modi’s decision to slash the import tariffs by 50% and reasoned that India is not doing a favor by decreasing the tariff rates.
India couldn’t retaliate to the demands made by US Government and hence, should focus more on how to minimize the damages incurred.
Even China understands that it’s difficult to stand against the US alone. It will thereby, look for support from other economies. But what does this have in store for India? And Narendra Modi? Nothing, unless there is a global agreement among various strong economies to stand against the giant nation. Modi, being the masterful political strategist he is, would be looking for maximum cooperation and minimum interference.
And, if there arises the slightest probability of any such agreement, India should be careful of not standing apart from the crowd. India shouldn’t be an initiator or an enforcer, being a mute spectator is what the situation demands.