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Donald Trump dumps TPP, Barack Obama’s ‘gold standard’ trade deal

So the trade wars have begun. Less than 72 hrs into to his first term, President Donald Trump has wasted no time making good on a number of campaign pledges, including today’s signing of an executive order to pull the US out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal.

Patrick Henningsen

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Published with the permission of the author. First appeared on 21st Century Wire.

The 12 nation deal was dubbed the “Gold Standard” by former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and was supposed to be the high-water mark of ex-President Barack Obama’s economic legacy – continuously championed by Obama and his backers on Wall Street, but was not yet approved by Congress.

The deal was initially designed for the US, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore, Vietnam, Brunei, Chile and Peru, but plans to extend its corporate reach would eventually include all countries in South America and the Pacific Rim. The other 11 nation signatories will likely move ahead with the deal regardless of the US, but it will be a weaker play in terms of geopolitical leverage.

This latest announcement follows Trump’s inauguration speech, promising from now on to put “America First,” while promoting the anti-globalization mantra of, “buy American and hire American.”

Said Trump: “We’ve been talking about this for a long time,” adding that today’s move will be a “great thing for the American worker.”

Democrat Bernie Sanders responded in kind: “Now is the time to develop a new trade policy that helps working families, not just multi-national corporations.” He added, “If President Trump is serious about a new policy to help American workers then I would be delighted to work with him.”

It doesn’t end there. Expect the new President to also go after George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton’s signature deal, the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). This should come as no surprise considering how much Trump savaged the deal on the campaign trail last year, blaming NAFTA for the loss of US jobs and industry since coming into effect in 1994.

NBC News has already reported today that Trump is expected to sign an executive order very soon to “renegotiate” Washington’s free trade agreement between the United States, Canada and Mexico – a pivot which will also include renegotiations on immigration and US border security, as well as the flow of illegal narcotics from Mexico into the US. Trump announced he would be meeting with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto in the coming weeks to discuss terms of a new deal.

Many of Trump’s critics believe that the decades-long process of globalization is an irreversible one, arguing that most manufacturing and low-skill jobs cannot return to the United States – a claim that Trump and his supporters are not willing to concede just yet. Already, Trump’s lobbying efforts have resulted in tens of thousands of manufacturing jobs being relocated back to US shores, including commitments from US firms Carrier United Technologies, Ford Motors, Apple, and Sprint Telecommunications.

At least one Chinese media source has already warned that US companies like Apple did indeed attempt to move thousands of manufacturing jobs back to the US as a “show of patriotism” which would raise costs dramatically.

“It will be almost impossible for [US] to restore its glory as a major manufacturing powerhouse under his presidency,” said Global Times.

Although Obama had cleverly sold the TPP as a way counter China’s growth in the Pacific trade region, the reality is that China already has a solid foothold in the region, and US firms, no matter how hard they might try, will not be able to compete with China’s economies of scale and competitive wage market, not to mention China’s new explosion in skilled engineering and manufacturing tooling the development – all sectors long abandoned by the US in favor of off-shoring skilled industry for profits.

The Chinese leadership is slightly more sanguine about the TPP’s fate. President Xi Jinping spoke at Davos last week, saying, “We must remain committed to promoting free trade and investment through opening up and say no to protectionism.” Translated: China’s position is strong and plans to take full advantage of any TPP vacuum created by Trump.

Not surprisingly, corporate devotee (and Washington’s number one arms industry sales rep) Senator John McCain is predicting gloom and doom should the US dump the TPP and other similar deals. According to the 80-year-old Senator, “This decision will forfeit the opportunity to promote American exports, reduce trade barriers, open new markets, and protect American invention and innovation.”

In general, McCain and those with similar allegiances to transnational corporate boards – all claim that US manufacturing exports to Canada and Mexico increased some 248% under the agreement, particularly in sectors like agriculture. But that figure is quite damp when you consider how the U.S. goods trade deficit with Mexico was $58 billion in 2015, along with a $15 billion goods trade deficit with Canada in the same year (Source: US Dept of Trade).

Regardless, proponents of NAFTA will rarely if ever mention the flight of manufacturing and industry from the US – a transfer of the real economy which always benefits the bottom line of transnational corporate share holders, but does not help millions of Americans who are still in search of full-time employment.

The other working half of Trump’s plan is of course, lowering US corporate tax rates – making the it more attractive for US firms, and foreign firms too – to locate operations inside the US. That’s the carrot. The stick is punitive Smoot-Hawley-style import tariffs designed to hurt any US firms trying to re-import there foreign-made product back into the US market. How the ying and yang of this proposition plays out depends largely on how many US firms Trump can persuade to come home.

Trump’s moves should be viewed as an opening salvo aimed at the heart of the globalist establishment. In terms of globalist confabs like Bilderberg and Davos, this latest announcement will not be received well at all, as corporatist deals like TPP and TTIP have been at the top of the agenda of their steering committees for decades. American Free Press writer Mark Anderson commented recently on the elitist lament at this year’s Davos Forum:

“Many of the gilded glitterati gathering in Davos, Switzerland amid the towering Alps for the annual World Economic Forum (WEF) see the populism sweeping much of the world as a fascinating trend. They certainly enjoy talking about it. But their academic chitter-chatter is starting to take on a panicked tone over the implications of the common man demanding a better life—a life without poverty in the face of plenty and without nonstop unwinnable wars, among other vexing problems.”

In other words, the globalist agenda has stalled and they’re not taking it well, forced to drink Laurent Perrier, rather than Louis Roederer Cristal. Tough times. The dual failures of the TPP and TTIP (spurred by BREXIT) could be seen as a kick in the teeth for many at Davos, considering that the TPP is regarded by many transnationalists as the ‘life’s work’ of the elite Trilateral Commission and the Council on Foreign Relations.

All of these entities have been working tirelessly to advance these deals, and one should not expect to see them disappear without a serious fight, or an attempt to scale the deals down trying to implement them through corporate or administrative and statutory fiat. In this regard, deals like TPP have been viewed as a affront to national sovereignty. If enacted, the TPP would have given sweeping legal powers sought by transnational corporations, with many critics calling it an end-run around the democratic process which places an inordinate amount of power into the hands of corporate lawyers and litigators.

This marks the beginning of a series of major trade face-offs between the new Administration – and everyone else. 

How will this translate in terms of dollars and cents for the American economy? We’ll know how the markets react in the short term, but in the long-term, one thing is certain: Trump has radically altered the political-economic environment already. Until preliminary economic data is in, pundits can only speculate and argue. Expect them to, and viciously. 

We won’t know much until 2018… just in time for the mid-term elections.

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BARR: No collusion by any Americans

Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Alex Christoforou

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Attorney General Barr found no one in the Trump campaign colluded with “Russia” to meddle in the 2016 US election.

A devastating blow to Democrats and their mainstream media stenographers.

Trump reacted immediately…

Via RT…

With the full report on special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into claims President Donald Trump colluded with Russia about to be released, Attorney General William Barr is giving a press conference about its findings.

Barr maintains the allegation that the Russian government made efforts to interfere in the election through the Internet Research Agency, an alleged Kremlin-control “troll farm”, as well as “hacking efforts” by the Russian intelligence agency GRU.

The bottom line, Barr says, is that Mueller has found Russia tried to interfere in the election, but “no American” helped it.

Barr explained the White House’s interaction with the Mueller report, whether Trump used executive privilege to block any of its contents from release, as well as on how the Justice Department chose which bits of the 400-page paper to redact.

On the matter of obstruction of justice, Barr said he and his deputy Rod Rosenstein have reviewed Mueller’s evidence and “legal theories”, and found that there is no evidence to show Trump tried to disrupt the investigation.

He said Trump never used his powers to interfere with Mueller, and thus had no “corrupt intent” in the matter.

Most of the redactions in the report were made to protect ongoing investigations and personal information of “peripheral third parties”.

Barr said that no-one outside the Justice Department took part in the redacting process or saw the unredacted version, except for the intelligence community, which was given access to parts of it to protect sources.

Trump did not ask to make any changes to Mueller’s report, Barr said.

Trump’s personal counsel was given access to the redacted report before its release.

A number of Trump-affiliated people, as well as Russian nationals, have been indicted, charged or put on trial by Mueller over the course of the past two years, but none for election-related conspiracy. Still, Democrats in Congress as well as numerous establishment media personalities have been insisting that Barr, a Trump pick for AG office, is somehow “spinning” its findings in order to protect and exonerate Trump, and are calling to see the full report as soon as possible.

They have equally condemned Barr’s decision to hold a news conference before the report is release, claiming he is trying to shape the public perception in Trump’s favor.

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Moscow’s Strategy: To Win Everywhere, Every Time

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange.

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Authored by Federico Pieraccini via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Important events have occurred in the Middle East and North Africa in recent weeks that underline how the overall political reconfiguration of the region is in full swing. The Shia axis continues its diplomatic relations and, following Rouhani’s meeting in Baghdad, it was the turn of Adil Abdul-Mahdi to be received in Tehran by the highest government and religious authorities. Among the many statements released, two in particular reveal the high level of cooperation between the two countries, as well as demonstrating how the Shia axis is in full bloom, carrying significant prospects for the region. Abdul-Mahdi also reiterated that Iraq will not allow itself to be used as a platform from which to attack Iran: “Iraqi soil will not be allowed to be used by foreign troops to launch any attacks against Iran. The plan is to export electricity and gas for other countries in the region.”

Considering that these two countries were mortal enemies during Saddam Hussein’s time, their rapprochement is quite a (geo)political miracle, owing much of its success to Russia’s involvement in the region. The 4+1 coalition (Russia, Iran, Iraq, Syria plus Hezbollah) and the anti-terrorism center in Baghdad came about as a result of Russia’s desire to coordinate all the allied parties in a single front. Russia’s military support of Syria, Iraq and Hezbollah (together with China’s economic support) has allowed Iran to begin to transform the region such that the Shia axis can effectively counteract the destabilizing chaos unleashed by the trio of the US, Saudi Arabia and Israel.

One of the gaps to be filled in the Shia axis lies in Lebanon, which has long experienced an internal conflict between the many religious and political currents in the country. The decision by Washington to recognize the Golan Heights as part of Israel pushed the Lebanese president, Michel Aoun, to make an important symbolic visit to Moscow to meet with President Putin.

Once again, the destabilizing efforts of the Saudis, Israelis and Americans are having the unintended effect of strengthening the Shia axis. It seems that this trio fails to understood how such acts as murdering Khashoggi, using civilian planes to hide behind in order to conduct bombing runs in Syria, recognizing the occupied territories like the Golan Heights – how these produce the opposite effects to the ones desired.

The supply of S-300 systems to Syria after the downing of the Russian reconnaissance plane took place as a result of Tel Aviv failing to think ahead and anticipate how Russia may respond.

What is surprising in Moscow’s actions is the versatility of its diplomacy, from the deployment of the S-300s in Syria, or the bombers in Iran, to the prompt meetings with Netanyahu in Moscow and Mohammad bin Salman at the G20. The ability of the Russian Federation to mediate and be present in almost every conflict on the globe restores to the country the international stature that is indispensable in counterbalancing the belligerence of the United States.

The main feature of Moscow’s approach is to find areas of common interest with its interlocutor and to favor the creation of trade or knowledge exchange. Another military and economic example can be found in a third axis; not the Shia or Saudi-Israeli-US one but the Turkish-Qatari one. In Syria, Erdogan started from positions that were exactly opposite to those of Putin and Assad. But with decisive military action and skilled diplomacy, the creation of the Astana format between Iran, Turkey and Russia made Turkey and Qatar publicly take the defense of Islamist takfiris and criminals in Idlib. Qatar for its part has a two-way connection with Turkey, but it is also in open conflict with the Saudi-Israeli axis, with the prospect of abandoning OPEC within a few weeks. This situation has allowed Moscow to open a series of negotiations with Doha on the topic of LNG, with these two players controlling most of the LNG on the planet. It is evident that also the Turkish-Qatari axis is strongly conditioned by Moscow and by the potential military agreements between Turkey and Russia (sale of S-400) and economic and energy agreements between Moscow and Doha.

America’s actions in the region risks combining the Qatari-Turkish front with the Shia axis, again thanks to Moscow’s skilful diplomatic work. The recent sale of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia, together with the withdrawal from the JCPOA (the Iranian nuclear agreement), has created concern and bewilderment in the region and among Washington’s allies. The act of recognizing the occupied Golan Heights as belonging to Israel has brought together the Arab world as few events have done in recent times. Added to this, Trump’s open complaints about OPEC’s high pricing of oil has forced Riyadh to start wondering out aloud whether to start selling oil in a currency other than the dollar. This rumination was quickly denied, but it had already been aired. Such a decision would have grave implications for the petrodollar and most of the financial and economic power of the United States.

If the Shia axis, with Russian protection, is strengthened throughout the Middle East, the Saudi-Israel-American triad loses momentum and falls apart, as seen in Libya, with Haftar now one step closer in unifying the country thanks to the support of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, France and Russia, with Fayez al-Sarraj now abandoned by the Italians and Americans awaiting his final defeat.

While the globe continues its multipolar transformation, the delicate balancing role played by Russia in the Middle East and North Africa is emphasized. The Venezuelan foreign minister’s recent visit to Syria shows how the front opposed to US imperialist bullying is not confined to the Middle East, with countries in direct or indirect conflict with Washington gathering together under the same protective Sino-Russian umbrella.

Trump’s “America First” policy, coupled with the conviction of American exceptionalism, is driving international relations towards two poles rather than multipolar ones, pushing China, Russia and all other countries opposed to the US to unite in order to collectively resist US diktats.

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Nigel Farage stuns political elite, as Brexit Party and UKIP surge in polls (Video)

The Duran Quick Take: Episode 144.

Alex Christoforou

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The Duran’s Alex Christoforou and Editor-in-Chief Alexander Mercouris take a look at Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party’s stunning rise in the latest UK polls, which show Tory support splintering and collapsing to new lows. Theresa May’s Brexit debacle has all but destroyed the Conservative party, which is now seeing voters turn to UKIP and The Brexit Party.

Corbyn’s Labour Party is not finding much favor from UK voters either, as anger over how Britain’s two main parties conspired to sell out the country to EU globalists, is now being voiced in various polling data ahead of EU Parliament elections.

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Authored by Mike Shedlock via MishTalk:


The Guardian reports Tories Hit by New Defections and Slump in Opinion Polls as Party Divide Widens.

The bitter fallout from Brexit is threatening to break the Tory party apart, as a Europhile former cabinet minister Stephen Dorrell on Sunday announces he is defecting to the independent MPs’ group Change UK, and a new opinion poll shows Conservative support plummeting to a five-year low as anti-EU parties surge.

The latest defections come as a new Opinium poll for the Observer shows a dramatic fall in Tory support in the past two weeks and a surge for anti-EU parties. The Conservatives have fallen by six percentage points to 29% compared to a fortnight ago. It is their worst position since December 2014. Labour is up one point on 36% while Ukip is up two points on 11%.

Even more alarmingly for the Tories, their prospects for the European elections appear dire. Only 17% of those certain to vote said they would choose the Conservatives in the European poll, while 29% would back Labour, and 25% either Ukip (13%) or Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party (12%).

YouGov Poll

A more recent YouGov Poll looks even worse for the Tories

In the YouGov poll, UKIP and BREX total 29%.

Polls Volatile

Eurointellingence has these thoughts on the polls.

We have noted before that classic opinion polls at a time like this are next to useless. But we found an interesting constituency-level poll, by Electoral Calculus, showing for the first time that Labour would get enough constituency MPs to form a minority government with the support of the SNP. This is a shift from previous such exercises, which predicted a continuation of the status quo with the Tories still in command.

This latest poll, too, is subject to our observation of massively intruding volatility. It says that some of the Tory’s most prominent MPs would be at risk, including Amber Rudd and Iain Duncan-Smith. And we agree with the bottom-line analysis of John Curtice, the pollster, who said the abrupt fall in support for Tories is due entirely to their failure to have delivered Brexit on time.

The Tories are facing two electoral tests in May – local elections on May 2 and European elections on May 23. Early polls are show Nigel Farage’s new Brexit party shooting up, taking votes away from the Tories. If European elections were held, we would expect the Brexit party to come ahead of the Tories. Labour is rock-solid in the polls, but Labour unity is at risk as the pro-referendum supporters want Jeremy Corbyn to put the second referendum on the party’s manifesto.

Tory Labour Talks

The Tory/Labour talks on a compromise have stalled, but are set to continue next week with three working groups: on security, on environmental protection, and on workers’ rights. A separate meeting is scheduled between Philip Hammond and John McDonnell, the chancellor and shadow chancellor. The big outstanding issue is the customs union. Theresa May has not yet moved on this one. We noted David Liddington, the effective deputy prime minister, saying that the minimum outcome of the talks would be an agreed and binding decision-making procedure to flush out all options but one in a series of parliamentary votes.

May’s task is to get at least half of her party on board for a compromise. What makes a deal attractive to the Tories is that May would resign soon afterwards, giving enough time for the Tory conference in October to select a successor before possible elections in early 2020.

This relative alignment of interests is why we would not rule out a deal – either on an agreed joint future relationship, or at least on a method to deliver an outcome.

Customs Union

A customs union, depending on how it is structured, would likely be worse than remaining. The UK would have to abide by all the EU rules and regulations without having any say.

Effectively, it will not be delivering Brexit.

Perhaps May’s deal has a resurrection.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock

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