Monday, March 19, 2018

Latin America Responds to US Trade Policy

Interesting article in the NYT about how the Trump Administration's trade policies are pushing Latin American countries to a) pare back their own protectionist policies; and b) forge more trade relationships with each other.

Certain ideas that started among academics and political pundits are also reaching the status of conventional wisdom, where Latin American presidents say them aloud:

“I think that with this attitude the United States is leaving a void, and that void may be filled by China,” President Sebastián Piñera of Chile said in a recent interview, adding that he was startled by the messages that the Chinese and American leaders presented at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
 “The president of the United States was defending protectionism, and the president of China was defending free trade,” Mr. Piñera said. “It felt a little like the world upside down.”

I've said this many times, and will repeat it ad infinitum I imagine, but this sequence of events is detrimental to U.S. interests and a boon to China. I should also hasten to point out that this is a conservative president saying this. Piñera should be a natural ideological ally, same as Mauricio Macri, but the administration is explicitly slapping them.

The upshot: the U.S. no longer can identify a clear ally in the region--it labels all of them a problem in some manner. And Latin American presidents are responding accordingly.


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