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In APEC Speech, Trump Slams China, WTO And TPP For Holding Back His "Indo-Pacific Dream"

Trump may have sensed that he appeared too conciliatory towards President Xi and China during his visit to Beijing, and so shortly after doubling down on his parting message to China by tweeting that "I don’t blame China, I blame the incompetence of past Admins for allowing China to take advantage of the U.S. on trade leading up to a point where the U.S. is losing $100's of billions. How can you blame China for taking advantage of people that had no clue? I would've done same!"...

I don’t blame China, I blame the incompetence of past Admins for allowing China to take advantage of the U.S. on trade leading up to a point where the U.S. is losing $100's of billions. How can you blame China for taking advantage of people that had no clue? I would've done same!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

... which prompted countless snarky comments from the blue-check gallery, Trump arrived in Vietnam where he immediately spoke at the APEC (Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation) summit; here the US president went back to his  "roots" of harshly criticizing China, its state-owned enterprises, all manner of anti-competitive practices by the Middle Kingdom, the WTO and the TPP. Trump also added that the United States will no longer tolerate the abuses and, while previous administrations have done nothing about them, he will.

The United States has been reminded time and again in recent years that economic security is not merely RELATED to national security - economic security IS national security. It is vital to our national strength.

pic.twitter.com/8gKQUhit2X

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump)

In summary, Trump:

  • Slammed China for the unacceptable trade deficit, lack of market access, government-run industrial planning, currency manipulation and other abuses for gaining economic advantage;
  • Slammed China’s subsidised state-owned enterprises which carry out the government’s predatory industrial policy and put private competitors out of business;
  • Slammed China for forcing companies to surrender technology to the state and forcing them into joint ventures to gain market access;
  • Slammed the WTO for unfairly treating the US and allowing countries, notably China, to break the rules;
  • Slammed the TPP (without naming it directly) which would tie America’s hands, remove its sovereignty and prevent the enforcement of WTO rules;
  • Will make bilateral trade agreements with Indo-Pacific nations; and
  • Stated that economic security is national security.

While Trump’s speech was greeted with a standing ovation, we suspect it was less well received by his new “friends” in Beijing.

Here is the key part of Trump’s speech regarding trade.

We seek robust trade relationships rooted in principles of fairness and reciprocity. When the US enters into trade relationships, from now on we will expect our partners will faithfully follow the rules just like we do. We expect that markets will be open to an equal degree on both sides and private industry, not government planners, will direct investment. It’s been unfair for too long and in too many places. The US systematically opened our economy with few conditions. We lowered or ended tariffs, reduced trade barriers and allowed foreign goods to flow freely into our country. But while we lowered market barriers, other countries didn’t open their markets to us. Countries were embraced by the WTO even if they didn’t abide by its stated principles. Simply put, we have not been treated fairly by the WTO. Organisations like the WTO can only function properly when all countries follow the rules and respect the sovereign rights of every member. We cannot achieve open markets if we do not ensure fair market access. In the end, unfair trade undermines us all.

 

The US promoted private enterprise, innovation and industry. Other countries use government-run industrial planning and state-owned enterprises. We adhere to WTO in protecting intellectual property and ensuring fair and equal market access. They engaged in product dumping, subsidised goods, currency manipulation and predatory industrial policies. They ignored the rules to gain advantages over those who followed the rules, causing enormous distortions in commerce and threatening the foundations of international trade itself. Such practices, along with our collective failure to respond to them, hurt many people in our country and also in other countries. Jobs, factories and industries were stripped out of the United States and out of many countries in addition.

 

We can no longer tolerate the abuses and we will not tolerate them. Despite years of broken promises, we were told someday soon everyone will behave fairly and responsibly. People throughout America and the Indo-Pacific region have waited for that day to come, but it never has and that is why I am here today. To speak frankly about the challenges and work towards a brighter future for all of us. I recently had an excellent trip to China where I spoke openly and directly to President Xi about China’s unfair trade practices and the enormous trade deficits they have produced with the United States. I expressed our strong desire to work with China to achieve a trading relationship that is conducted on a truly fair and equal basis. The current trade imbalance is not acceptable. I do not blame China or any other country for taking advantage of the United States on trade. If their representatives are able to get away with it, they are just doing their jobs. I wish previous administrations in my country saw what was happening and did something about it. They did not, but I will.

 

From this day forward, will compete on a fair and equal basis. We are not going to let the United States be taken advantage of any more. I am always going to put America first, the same way I expect all of you in this room to put your countries first. The US is prepared to work with each of the leaders in this room today to achieve mutually beneficial commerce that is in the interest of both your countries and mine. That is the message I am here to deliver. I will make bilateral agreements with any Indo-Pacific nation that wants to be our partner and will abide by the principles of free and reciprocal trade. What we will no longer do is enter into large agreements that will tie our hands, surrender our sovereignty and make meaningful enforcement practically impossible. Instead we will deal on the basis of mutual respect and mutual benefit. We will respect your independence and sovereignty, we want you to strong prosperous and self-reliant, rooted in your history and branching out towards the future. That is how we will grow together, in partnerships of real and lasting value. 

 

But for this, and I call it the Indo-Pacific dream, if it’s going to be realised, we must ensure that all play by the rules, which they do not right now. Those who do will be our closest partners, those who do not can be certain that the United States will no longer turn a blind eye to violations, cheating or economic aggression. Those days are over. We will no longer tolerate the audacious theft of intellectual property. We will confront the destructive practices of forcing businesses to surrender their technology to the state and forcing them into joint ventures in exchange for market access. We will address the massive subsiding of industries through colossal state-owned enterprises that put private competitors out of businesses.  We will not remain silent as American companies are targeted by state-affiliated actors for economic gain, whether through cyber-attack, corporate espionage or other anti-competitive practice…The US has been reminded time and time again in recent years that economic security is not related to national security. Economic security is national security. It is vital to our national security.

He concluded with…

“God bless the Pacific region, God bless the United States of America.

… which the locals seemed to particularly enjoy.