The Trump script-anchored on oversimplifications

Mon, 30 Jan 2017 08:39:30 +0000

By Alexander .B. CHIKWANDA

listened to the inaugural address of the new U.S. President, Donald Trump on 20th January, 2017. The U.S. President is a key player on the global political stage even as the USA impacts on the world is essentially a declining function of time.

There was no doubt that the speech trump delivered was written by him because it was a summation of his themes and agenda on the long campaign trial, only that the sequencing was a bit more orderly. Some bits were quite profound: somewhat revolutionary.

Overall, there was total lack of vision –some outrageous oversimplifications which in a global context were adrift or at variance with reality and likely to roll back the frontiers of international cooperation.

Rulers of countries have a primary mandate and task to be custodians of the interests of their citizens but as no country is an island and cannot conceivably live in isolation, there is a compelling and inescapable need and imperative to foster optimization of the global community’s interests which entails a retreat from zero sum games or scenarios. America first is a plausible and legitimate aim- but what countries will be peripheries and willingly accept to play second fiddle?

In life, there is always an issue of profoundly good intentions and how these intentions are put into effect or come to fruition. There are always downside risks to most elaborately conceived or designed schemes.

Trump may wish to create more jobs in the automobile industry in the USA, but just ordering car manufacturers from Mexico into the USA may be a bit too euphoric and gloss over realities. The motor industry globally is very competitive and margins may not be all that lavish. In Mexico, the hourly labour costs are less than $10, whereas in America, they are about $45. Thus, moving car manufacturing from Mexico into the USA is not a cost neutral exercise and certainly not as glamorous as in Mr. Trump’s world.

China has received more than its share of bashing by the versatile President Trump. Raising tariffs for Chinese imports into the USA would not be entirely salutary. Many goods imported from China, just as in the case of Mexican imports, have very significant content of American components. Low priced Chinese imports are a benefit for American households and help considerably in toning down inflationary spiral which is good for the beneficiary economy- the importing country.

Taking on China is not the most prudent, let alone expedient thing to do. China with its huge population whose purchasing power is ever rising is an attractive market for every country in the world. For America, there are several facets to consider in relations with China. One of these aspects is that the Chinese hold nearly $2 trillion in U.S Government securities.

The world revolves and rapidly too. About three decades ago with the collapse of the soviet empire, the world experienced a unipolar monocentric Washington driven power structure and China was a mere countervailing force: this is no longer the status quo. A rabbi once observed that there was a streak in Judaism to regard history as a poker game played between God and the Jews, in which process the presence of others may be noted but never assigned any significance.

Americans have a streak of megalomania and it is tempting to regard the rest of the world as some backyard or appendage. The reality that Americans need to face is that the global power structure will be irreversibly polycentric. China has, in a short time, become the world’s second economy.

Although in market dollar price terms China’s GDP may be $6-7 trillion less than that of the USA, its GDP is at par with America when the purchasing power parity method of measurement is used. The combined GDP of the European Union, abstracting from Brexit, is about the same as that of the USA. Most likely in less than 10 years, China will overtake America as the biggest economy in the world with more than 1.5 billion consumers.

The world also has many sleeping giants in the so-called emerging markets. Can you imagine the impetus to the global economy if India overcomes the brakes on its economy caused by entrenched vested interests? India with already huge glaring leaps in information technology has vast reservoirs of entrepreneurs whose resourcefulness awaits to be unleashed on the world with appropriate reforms. India already has impressive multinational corporations.

At America’s backyard in Latin America, there are those giants in the form of Brazil and Argentine with enormous strides in getting their huge potential unblocked. Brazil is already the largest producer of sugar cane and many of its derivatives, cotton, orange juice, not to mention the famous coffee. Since the change of guard and adjustment in management of its economy, Argentina is on the march. In the last three decades, Africa has improved its economic stakes although a lot remains to be done to ensure sustainability.

America is critical to the world development process with its vast accumulation of technology and financial resources. Trump and his team need to streamline their agenda to help foster enhanced international cooperation. Trade wars and pulling out of trade treaties like the North American free trade area or the Trans Pacific partnership is a background step and a gross disservice to both America and the world.

America has stood for noble causes such as rebuilding the war shattered economies of Europe through the Marshall plan and many acts which have had profoundly salutary effects on the global economy.

Trump has put together a team of people, some of them distinct success stories. For those of us who suffer from inerasible optimism, the hope is that the capable men and women around President Trump will urge for sanity as it is indeed inconceivable that such a grouping of distinction would be sycophants beyond redemption who would be competing to tell the president what he wants to hear.

Fortunately, as evidenced by the large numbers on the streets of many American cities on January 21st, there are many more people than Trump’s ardent followers who will not support America rolling back the frontiers of international cooperation which is the only guarantee for global peace, harmony and end to misery.

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