Trump, China, and the Americas – Part 2

The day after I wrote on Trump’s alienating stance towards Latin America inviting a further opening from China, an article was published in the NYTimes outlining the attempts underway to further the Mercosur and Pacific Alliance trade agreements, including Asian countries as well as Pacific Ocean-abutting Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru, in an attempt to diversify trade outside of the increasingly protectionist United States trade policies.

“Trump has inadvertently done more for commercial integration in Latin America than many Latin American leaders managed to accomplish,” said Patricio Navia, a political scientist at New York University.

In addition, the article looks at the two most powerful economies in Latin America, Brazil and Argentina, who are the two economies (post-exemption) projected to be most impacted by Trump’s steel tariffs.

Rather than seeking a one-upmanship strategy of solely levying tariffs and ramping up protectionism, Brazil is scrambling to do the opposite – open up an economy to trade that has been notoriously protectionist. A blueprint of this plan, entitled ‘Commercial Opening for Economic Growth’ was published by the President earlier this month.

“Our vision is the opposite of what is happening in the United States,” said Marcos Jorge de Lima, Brazil’s minister of industry and foreign trade. “We want more and more trade openings.”

Lastly, the article touches on the concerns raised by Chilean President Sebastián Piñera in an interviewing following the Davos Forum on the very different visions outlined by the American and Chinese leadership in their ongoing attempts at leading the world order. However, in stark contrast to decades of free trade-advocating by the United States, foreign leaders found themselves listening to Chinese leadership calling for the opening of markets and closer trade ties globally.

Piñera: “I think that with this attitude the United States is leaving a void, and that void may be filled by China. The president of the United States was defending protectionism, and the president of China was defending free trade. It felt a little like the world upside down.

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