Trump’s trade war with China: why the UN must step in before the problem gets worse

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 4:01am
UPDATED : Thursday, 27 September, 2018, 4:00am

I refer to the letter from Lo Wai Kong (“China knows all about trade wars and arrogance: but does Donald Trump?”, September 22). I share the sentiment that Trump is too arrogant towards China, scolding such a big, powerful nation as he might a small child – where’s the respect?

But perhaps the US president is just letting off steam from being constantly mocked by the American press for continually getting his facts wrong, outright lying and even apparent stupidity. The pressure has to go somewhere.

In any case, the view that China will have the upper hand in the trade war is to a certain extent correct, in so far as a number of hard facts are concerned, most central of which is that tariffs on Chinese goods hurt US businesses and consumers more than China, while Chinese goods can be diverted via other nations to the US. Furthermore, the labour-intensive and low-to-medium-end Chinese goods are for the most part no longer products that a developed economy like the US can economically produce.

Thus, Trump’s purported agenda behind the trade war – reindustrialising the US – fails to convince. Rather it lends credence to theory that the US is really trying to contain China from becoming the most powerful nation economically and technologically, irrespective of whether China is guilty of breaking the rules of global free trade or not.

Watch: Is the trade war hurting US steel business?

Cost of the trade war: US$430 billion and counting

If this is indeed the case, then the trade war is not just a problem for the US and China. It could have more serious consequences, as long as the prevailing sentiment in the US is the desire to maintain its paramount economic and technological position – and this would persist even if Trump were to resign or be impeached.

In other words, the issue seems serious enough for the United Nations to address, and it should not be allowed to fester on the bilateral level. The nations of the world should step in to check this problem now, because the current US administration has already shown complete disregard for international institutions and agreements like the World Trade Organisation, the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the North American Free Trade Agreement – all institutions and groups that the US was a founding member of.

Kenneth Chia, Singapore

The real losers in the trade war are US consumers

I refer to “Tariffs put United States in a strong position” (September 17). I suggest that this comment from Donald Trump be interpreted as “this places US companies in a strong position to rip off US consumers as the result of the reduction in competition”. Why is so much attention paid to the protectionist voices of a limited number of producer groups and their employees, and so little paid to the interests of US consumers? The “losers” in a tariff war are mainly US consumers.

Trade is not about winning and losing. It is about allowing people and countries to specialise based on competitive strengths for mutual benefit.

Peter Paul, Discovery Bay