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Rand Paul: Americans have been increasingly clear that they are tired of constant war

It’s Time for a New American Foreign Policy

Alex Christoforou

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He should have been US President. Rand Paul would have done what Trump promised to do, but has failed miserably…drain the swamp.

Paul appears to be the only sane voice, in a DC swamp hell bent on starting World War 3.

Rand Paul: “It’s Time for a New American Foreign Policy”

What kind of job can you have where you are consistently wrong, yet get to still go on TV talking endlessly and making more wild predictions that will no doubt lead to the same failed result?

If you guessed “TV Weatherman” you’re close…but the job I’m referring to is “Neocon Foreign Policy Expert”

Being a neocon means never having to say you’re sorry, even trillions of dollars and decades into doomed wars.

Iraq

Famously, the neocons have told us that we would be greeted as liberators in Iraq. The thousands of American soldiers killed or wounded might argue otherwise. The architects of the Iraq war forgot to tell us that it would embolden Iran and give Iran a new ally in the ‘liberated’ Shia majority in Iraq. They forgot to tell us that it would tip the balance of power in the Middle East and encourage Saudi Arabia to go on a military buying spree and become the third largest purchasers of weapons in the world.

Libya

The neocons told us that the Arab Spring would bring Western-style democracy to the Middle East. They told us toppling Muammar el-Qaddafi would bring freedom and stability. They were wrong and instead of stability the overthrow of Qaddafi brought chaos. They failed to understand that the chaos of Libya would become a breeding ground for terrorism.

Syria

The neocons loudly announced that regime change in Syria was their goal. Yet, even Hillary Clinton realized the problem when our arms, as well as Saudi and Qatari arms, were getting delivered in the hands of ISIS. In one of the Wikileaks emails, Hillary warned Podesta: “the governments of Qatar and Saudi Arabia . . . are providing clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIS and other radical groups in the region.”

And yet, the deliveries of Western arms to jihadists went on and on for years.

Despite the evidence that many of the fighters opposing Assad were jihadists with an equal hatred for Israel and the United States, the weapons kept flowing.

Remember their call to arm the “moderate fighters?” Who can forget the $260 million spent to train sixty fighters, ten of whom were captured only minutes after they were sent into battle.

The neocons vociferously argued that Assad must go. Senators McCain and Graham argued that you couldn’t defeat ISIS without also defeating Assad. John Bolton went so far as to pontificate that “defeating the Islamic State” is “neither feasible nor desirable” if Assad remains in power. Actually, the opposite was true. Only when the mission changed from removing Assad to attacking ISIS did the tide finally turn.

Max Abrahms and John Glaser wrote in the LA Times late last year that contrary to neocon dogma, ISIS “imploded right after external support for the ‘moderate’ rebels dried up.”

So, the neocons who argued that ISIS couldn’t or shouldn’t be defeated without first defeating Assad were wrong again.

In the 2016 presidential primary two candidates—myself and Donald Trump—declared that the Iraq War was a mistake, that we should not arm our enemies and that America didn’t have a dog in every fight.

I campaigned against the folly of recent neocon wars, the futility of nation building, and the bankruptcy, moral and literal, of the idea of policing the world. So did Donald Trump—for the most part.

So where do we go from here? Congress is still dominated by neocons. The Trump administration shows no sign of ending the Afghan war. If anything, President Trump has doubled down on our support for Saudi Arabia in the Yemeni civil war. Candidate Trump, who consistently voiced his displeasure with the Iraq War, has surrounded himself with generals still intent on finding military solutions where none exist.

Neocon critics believe the world is black and white. You’re either Churchill or Chamberlain. You’re either with us or against us. You’re either a patriot or an isolationist.

The irony is that the neocons are the TRUE isolationists. The neocons wish to isolate and forbid trade with regimes that they disapprove of. The neocon policy toward Cuba is the very definition of isolationism.

For over half a century, we’ve had an embargo with Cuba. Not only did the Castros survive it, but they milked it for everything it was worth. The Cuban government stoked the flames of nationalism in Cuba and blamed America for anything that went wrong, rather than the true culprit—their own dogmatic socialism.

The isolationist neocons want to continue this embargo. They want to peel back the small diplomatic gains that have been made. They want to pare back cultural exchange and dialogue.

The opposite, free travel and trade, is what is needed.

Our founders understood the perils of perpetual war.

John Quincy Adams echoed and summed the spirit of the foreign policy of our founders when he said:

America goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.

Far from being isolationist, the foreign policy of our Founders is the true engagement. To seek honest friendship, free commerce, open dialogue and peaceful engagement with all who are willing.

Libertarian realists agree.

We do not seek to retreat within our borders—nor do we seek to expand them.

We do not seek a wall to keep everyone out, nor to keep anyone in.

Too often the United States has attempted to till the soil in foreign lands with our bombs and plow it with our tanks.

Instead, we should seek to help others till their land with our tractors and reap their harvest with our combines.

The neocons argue that Americans want a more robust foreign policy. Maybe, but at the same time, Americans have also been increasingly clear that they are tired of constant war.

Reagan had it right when he said “our reluctance for conflict should not be misjudged as a failure of will.”

In fact, restraint is a triumph of will.

After the debacles of Iraq and Libya, after becoming weary of a drawn-out mission in Afghanistan, the American people are looking for a new path for foreign policy.

America should steer clear of other countries civil wars, such as Yemen.

We should not be in wars where the best outcome is stalemate, as we are in Afghanistan.

And America shouldn’t fight wars that are not authorized by Congress.

Admittedly, the War on Terror is not over, but any military action must be judged by this question: will this use of force kill more terrorists than it creates?

Refueling Saudi bombers mid-air and supplying them with bombs that are dropped on a funeral procession is exactly the kind of misguided policy that creates more terrorists than it kills.

To defend our country properly, we must understand that while there are those that hate our values, military interventions aimed at changing that at the point of a gun—or the blast radius of a bomb—may well exacerbate this hatred rather than end it.

We need a foreign policy that recognizes its own limits, a common sense realism of strength, limited action, full diplomatic engagement and free trade.

Here’s how I see the most important principles of this foreign policy.

First, the use of force must always be on the table, but rarely used. War should be the last resort, not the first.

War is necessary when America is attacked or directly and clearly threatened, and when we have exhausted all measures short of war.

The second principle is that Congress, the people’s representative, must authorize the decision to intervene.

The most serious decision we make as a nation is to send our sons or daughters to war. We should make it together, and we should vote on it.

Finally, how do we solve non-military challenges in places like Asia and Eastern Europe?

That’s where the third principle comes in—a firm, full commitment to diplomacy and leadership.

Hysteria over election-meddling threatens to reignite the Cold War.

Russia, at times, is our adversary, but it need not be our permanent enemy.

Whether it is the threat of ISIS, or the situations in Iran and Syria, it would be in our interest to work together with Russia where possible, yet this opportunity is slipping by. Obsession with Russian “collusion” or other conspiracies involving the Kremlin and the administration have frozen the narrative and hampered what I believe to be the president’s good instincts on the proper relationship with Russia.

Before I close, let me talk about the last piece of the puzzle for a strong foreign policy—our own economic strength.

Adm. Mike Mullen properly noted that the biggest threat to our national security is our debt.

A bankrupt nation does not project power, but weakness.

Our national debt now exceeds $20 trillion. Trillion dollar annual deficits have returned.

Our overseas adventures are causing us to be stretched thin, and Republicans have pushed for, and received, a massive military spending increase.

Despite Congressional hostility, I have asked the question: is our military budget too small or is our mission too big?

I believe, without question, it is the latter. Our mission has become too large. Years after completing our mission in Afghanistan, America remains—spending $50 billion a year nation-building. We are adding debt at nearly $2 million per minute.

If we’re not careful, we will spend our way into second-tier nation status quickly.

If the long war is to ever end, we must understand what must take its place.

It isn’t just religion, nor even abject poverty, that motivates those seeking a better life. It is often the simple idea of freedom that we in the west take for granted.

Mohammed Bousazizi, the Tunisian street merchant who set himself on fire and began the Arab Spring, was an aspiring entrepreneur foiled by an overbearing government.

He had a dream. He’d save for a truck, and he’d sell his wares on the streets to build a life.

Cronyism and overbearing government stifled his dream. He set himself on fire, and the flames are still burning.

My great grandfather came to America with a dream not unlike Bousazizi’s. He peddled vegetables until he saved enough to purchase a truck, to become what was then logically called a truck-farmer. Over time he was able to purchase a home, then a small bit of land.

My grandfather didn’t need a permit or a license. No government hindered his success.

Peruvian economist De Soto spoke to Bousazazi’s father and asked him if he left a legacy. He replied, “Of course, he believed even the poor had a right to buy and sell.”

To own one’s labor and the products of one’s labor is a fundamental human right.

To trade one’s labor and products is also a fundamental right.

Strangely, neocons and libertarians likely agree that government should largely leave us free to pursue our dreams. Neocons, however, feel some universal calling to liberate humanity. Libertarians want the same liberty for individuals across the globe but think that ‘spreading liberty’ through perpetual war can only occur with a big government that tramples individual liberty.

When you boil it all down, the dilemma is whether liberty spreads best by persuasion or force.

And going one step further, one must ask if the government can maintain its character as a defender of individual liberty if the government must large enough to support perpetual war.

This was the great battle fought between William F. Buckley and Murray Rothbard in the early 1960’s. Everyone thinks Buckley’s National Review won hands down. And yet, Buckley himself ended up doubting the wisdom of the Iraq War.

The schism that divides neocons and libertarian realists will heal when the neoconservatives finally acknowledge that a government big enough to “make the world safe for democracy” is inconsistent with individual liberty.

When neoconservatives accept that a government large enough to fight perpetual war requires taxes and debt so extensive as to be to inconsistent with individual liberty—then will the schism heal.

When that time comes, libertarians and neoconservatives will gather in Williamsburg and raise a pint to our common heroes: Jefferson, Paine, Madison, and yes, even John Adams. That will be a glorious time, a time when liberty is no longer divided and we can all celebrate the great American experiment in Liberty.

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While US seeks to up the ante on pressure on the DPRK, Russia proposes easing sanctions

These proposals show the dichotomy between the philosophy of US and Russian foreign policy

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The United States last week accused the DPRK of violating refined petroleum caps imposed as a part of UN nuclear sanctions dating back to 2006, and is therefore submitting a proposal to cut all petroleum product sales to North Korea.

The Trump administration is keen on not only preserving pressure on North Korea over its nuclear arms development, but in increasing that pressure even as DPRK Chairman, Kim Jong-Un, is serially meeting with world leaders in a bid to secure North Korea’s security and potential nuclear disarmament, a major move that could deescalate tensions in the region, end the war with the South, and ease global apprehensions about the North’s nuclear arsenal.

Meanwhile, Russia is proposing to the UNSC sanctions relief in some form due to the North’s expressed commitment to nuclear disarmament in the light of recent developments.

Reuters reports:

MOSCOW/UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – Russia’s envoy to North Korea said on Wednesday it would be logical to raise the question of easing sanctions on North Korea with the United Nations Security Council, as the United States pushes for a halt to refined petroleum exports to Pyongyang.

“The positive change on the Korean peninsula is now obvious,” said the ambassador, Alexander Matsegora, according to the RIA news agency, adding that Russia was ready to help modernize North Korea’s energy system if sanctions were lifted and if Pyongyang can find funding for the modernization.

The U.N. Security Council has unanimously boosted sanctions on North Korea since 2006 in a bid to choke off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, banning exports including coal, iron, lead, textiles and seafood, and capping imports of crude oil and refined petroleum products.

China tried late last month to get the Security Council to issue a statement praising the June 12 Singapore meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and expressing its “willingness to adjust the measures on the DPRK in light of the DPRK’s compliance with the resolutions.”

North Korea’s official name is Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

But the United States blocked the statement on June 28 given “ongoing and very sensitive talks between the United States and the DPRK at this time,” diplomats said. The same day, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi about the importance of sanctions enforcement.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is due to informally brief U.N. Security Council envoys along with South Korea and Japan on Friday.

Diplomats say they expect Pompeo to stress the need to maintain pressure on North Korea during his briefing on Friday.

In a tweet on Wednesday Trump said he elicited a promise from Russian President Vladimir Putin to help negotiate with North Korea but did not say how. He also said: “There is no rush, the sanctions remain!”

The United States accused North Korea last week of breaching a U.N. sanctions cap on refined petroleum by making illicit transfers between ships at sea and demanded an immediate end to all sales of the fuel.

The United States submitted the complaint to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee, which is due to decide by Thursday whether it will tell all U.N. member states to halt all transfers of refined petroleum to Pyongyang.

Such decisions are made by consensus and some diplomats said they expected China or Russia to delay or block the move.

When asked on June 13 about whether sanctions should be loosened, Russian U.N. Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia said: “We should be thinking about steps in that direction because inevitably there is progress on the track that should be reciprocal, that should be a two-way street. The other side should see encouragement to go forward.”

The proposals of both the United States and Russia are likely to be vetoed by each other, resulting no real changes, but what it displays is the foreign policy positions of both nuclear powers towards the relative position of the DPRK and its rhetorical move towards denuclearization. The US demonstrates that its campaign of increased pressure on the North is necessary to accomplishing the goal of a denuclearized Korean peninsula, while Russia’s philosophy on the matter is to show a mutual willingness to follow through on verbal commitment with a real show of action towards an improved relationship, mirroring on the ground what is happening in politics.

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Europe divided over possible trade compromise with Trump

Even if a European proposal could score a trade cease fire, the war isn’t over

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US President Donald Trump has just lectured NATO on it member’s commitment performance and held a controversial meeting with the Russian President Vladimir Putin and is next week to receive EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, with trade matters being high up on the agenda.

Juncker is expected to present Trump with a package of proposals to help smooth relations and potentially heal areas of division, particularly those surrounding Europe’s trade relationship with America. Those proposals are precisely what is cropping up as another area of divergence between some members of the EU, specifically France and Germany, just after a major contention on migration has been driving discord within the Union.

This gets down to whether Europe should offer concessions to Trump on trade while Trump is admittedly describing the Union as a ‘foe’ and has initiated a trade spat with the Union by assessing trade tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Europe, spurring retaliatory tariff measures from the EU Commission.

France, specifically, is opposed to any sort of compromise with Trump on the matter, where Trump is perceived as an opponent to the Union and its unity, whereas Germany is economically motivated to seek an end to the trade dispute under the threat of a new round of tariffs emanating from the Trump administration, and is therefore seeking to find some sort of proposal that Trump will accept and therefore back down on his protectionism against the EU, and Germany in particular.

Politico reports:

Only a week before European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker flies to Washington, France and Germany are divided over how much he should offer to U.S. President Donald Trump to end a deepening trade war, say European diplomats and officials.

But, they add, Germany has the upper hand. Berlin is shaping Juncker’s agenda, suggesting three offers that he could take to Trump on July 25 to resolve the dispute, according to people familiar with the plans.

The French are uneasy about the wisdom of such a conciliatory approach, however, and publicly accuse Trump of seeking to splinter and weaken the 28-member bloc, which he has called his “foe.”

Despite Paris’ reservations about giving away too much to the increasingly hostile U.S. president, the diplomats say that the European Commission’s powerful Secretary-General Martin Selmayr supports the German attempt at rapprochement, which makes it more likely that Juncker will offer some kind of trade fix next week.

“It’s clear that Juncker can’t go to Washington empty-handed,” one diplomat said. He stressed that Juncker’s proposals would be a political signal to Washington and would not be the formal beginning of negotiations, which would have to be approved by EU countries.

European ambassadors will meet on Wednesday to discuss the scope of Juncker’s offer — and indeed whether any offers should be made at all. France’s official position is that Europe must not strike any deal with a gun to its head, or with any country that has opted out of the Paris climate accord, as Trump’s America has done.

While Berlin is terrified by the prospect of 20 percent tariffs on cars and is desperate for a ceasefire deal, France has more fundamental suspicions that the time for compromise is over and that Trump simply wants to destroy EU unity. Paris is concerned that Trump’s next target is its sacred farm sector and is putting more emphasis on the importance of preserving a united political front against Washington.

Two diplomats said Berlin has a broad menu of offers that should be made to Trump: a bilateral deal to cut industrial tariffs, a plurilateral agreement to eliminate car duties worldwide, and a bigger transatlantic trade agreement including regulatory cooperation that potentially also comes with talks on increasing U.S. beef exports into Europe.

Making such generous offers is contentious when Trump crystallized his trade position toward Brussels on CBS news on Sunday: “I think the European Union is a foe, what they do to us in trade. Now, you wouldn’t think of the European Union, but they’re a foe.”

This undiplomatic bombshell came not long after he reportedly advised French President Emmanuel Macron to quit the EU to get a better trade deal than he was willing to offer the EU28.

In announcing Juncker’s visit on Tuesday, the White House said that he and Trump “will focus on improving transatlantic trade and forging a stronger economic partnership.”

Talking to the enemy

Diplomats note that a French-led camp in Brussels reckons Trump’s goals are strategic, and that he’s not after the sort of deal Germany is offering.

A French government official said that Washington quite simply wants to shift the EU off the stage: “Trump’s objective is that there are two big blocs: The United States and China. A multipower world with Europe as a strong player does not fit in.”

France’s Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire this month also issued a stark warning that Trump is seeking to drive a wedge between France and Germany — courting Paris, while simultaneously attacking Berlin’s trade surplus with the U.S. “In this globalized world, European countries must form a bloc, because what our partners or adversaries want is to divide us,” Le Maire said at an economic conference in Aix-en-Provence. “What the United States want, that’s to divide France and Germany.”

Despite these remarks from Le Maire, Anthony Gardner, former ambassador to the EU under the Barack Obama administration, said that he suspects the full magnitude of the threat has not sunk in. “Europe wake up; the U.S. wants to break up the EU,” he tweeted on Sunday. “Remember Belgium’s motto: L’union fait la force. [Unity creates strength]. Especially on trade. No side deals.”

One EU diplomat insisted that Brussels is not blind to these dangers in the run-up to Juncker’s visit.

Trump thinks that Europe is “too big to be controllable by DC, so it’s bad for America. Simple logic. And therefore the only deal that will bring the president to stop the trade war is the deal that breaks up the European market. I don’t quite think that’s the legacy Juncker is aiming for,” the diplomat said.

Europe is source of a deep frustration for Trump, as it runs a massive goods surplus with the U.S., at $147 billion in 2016. In particular, the U.S. president blames Germany’s mighty car exporters for this imbalance.

Leveling the field is not easy, however. With its market of 510 million consumers, Europe not only has the clout to stand up to the United States, but is increasingly setting global standards — particularly on food. This not only limits U.S. exports in Europe but also means that the European model is used in a broader trading ecosystem that includes Canada, Mexico and Japan.

New world order

Marietje Schaake, a liberal Dutch member of the European Parliament, observed that the U.S. trade strategy meshed with Trump’s political agenda.

“You could say there’s a new transatlantic relation emerging, of nationalists, populists and protectionists,” she said, pointing out that Trump’s meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin has cast doubt on America’s commitment to supporting European security.

Trump’s opposition to the EU partly builds on an long-standing American discomfort about the EU’s economic policies.

“We already saw problems during the negotiations for the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, where the U.S. didn’t like EU demands such as on geographical indications [food name protections], and certainly didn’t like that we had ambitious requests in areas like public procurement,” said Pascal Kerneis, managing director of the European Services Forum and a member of the now defunct TTIP advisory group.

Kerneis said that Trump’s trade attacks are shifting the tensions to a completely new level: “He’s attacking on all fronts, hoping to break our unity, particularly between Germany and France.”

France particularly fears that Trump’s duties on Spanish olives could only be the first salvo on Europe’s whole system of farm subsidies.

EU lawmaker Schaake said that France is right to worry about a conflagration. “Once we give in in one area, he will attack at the next one,” she said. “If we allow Trump to play Europeans against each other, sector by sector, it will be a losing game.”

Even if Europe goes about capitulating to Trump’s gripes about the Union, whether it gets back to NATO defense spending or the trade deficit, the question remains whether this will satiate Trump’s political appetite and result in an improved trade perspective and politically acceptable position with Washington, and France’s concern that the matter runs deeper and has a foreign policy agenda behind it, and that caving to Trump’s pressure will only end in defeat for the EU would therefore appear reasonable.

But Germany is staring down the barrel of a possible new round of tariffs that would hurt some of their largest industries and is therefore under a lot of pressure to find a solution, or at least some sort of agreement that could deescalate the situation.

However, Germany’s recent record of resolving international issues is such that Germany is really only scoring cease fire agreements, rather than ending the real political conflicts, referring mainly to the immigration issue which recently resulted only in diffusing some inter Union tensions, but without resolving the problem itself.

In this context, Germany could promise the moon and stars to Trump, possibly avert further trade tensions, but yet fail to address the core political and trade conflicts that have already broken out. Essentially, then, such a compromise would only serve to function as damage control, while leaving Germany and the Union at a further disadvantaged political position relative to the States at the political table.

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EU and Japan ink free trade deal representing over 30% of global GDP

The free trade agreement represents a victory for free trade in the face of growing protectionism

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In a bid to preserve free trade and strengthen their trade partnership, the European Union and Japan have finished a free trade zone agreement that has been sitting in the pipeline for years.

The present global economic outlook provided the needed spur to action to get the ball rolling again and now it has finally reached the end zone and scored another point for free and open trade against the growing influence of protectionism, which has been creeping up with alarming rapidity and far reaching consequences in recent months.

Under the deal, Japan will scrap tariffs on some 94% of goods imported from Europe and the EU in turn is canning 99% of tariffs on Japanese goods.

Between the European Union and Japan, the trade deal impacts about 37% of the world’s GDP, making it one of the largest and impactful of such agreements.

The Japan Times reports:

Top European Union leaders and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe signed an economic partnership agreement Tuesday in Tokyo, a pact that will create a massive free trade zone accounting for 37 percent of the world’s trade by value.

European Council President Donald Tusk and European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker hastily arranged their visit to Tokyo after Abe was forced to abruptly cancel plans to attend a July 11 signing ceremony in Brussels in the aftermath of flooding and mudslides in western Japan.

Japanese officials said the signing is particularly important to counter intensifying protectionism worldwide triggered by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Negotiations on the pact between Japan and the EU, which started in 2013, had stagnated for a time but regained momentum after Trump took office in January 2017.

“We are sending a clear message that we stand together against protectionism,” Tusk said at a joint news conference with Abe after they signed the agreement.

“The relationship between the EU and Japan has never been stronger. Geographically we are far apart, but politically and economically we could be hardly any closer,” Tusk said. “I’m proud today we are taking our strategic partnership to a new level.”

Tusk stressed that the EU and Japan are partners sharing the same basic values, such as liberal democracy, human rights and rule-based order.

Abe also emphasized the importance of free and fair trade.

“Right now, concerns are rising over protectionism all around the world. We are sending out a message emphasizing the importance of a trade system based on free and fair rules,” he said.

The pact will create a free trade bloc accounting for roughly 30 percent of the world’s gross domestic product. Japan and the EU hope to have the agreement, which still needs to be ratified by both parties, come into force by March.

Under the EPA, tariffs on about 99 percent of Japan’s exported goods to the EU will eventually be eliminated, while duties on 94 percent of EU’s exported items to Japan will be abolished, according to the Foreign Ministry.

The EPA will eliminate duties of 10 percent on Japan’s auto exports to the EU seven years after the pact takes effect. The current 15 percent duties on wine imports from the EU will be eliminated immediately, while those on cheese, pork and beef will be sharply cut.

In total, the EPA will push up domestic GDP by 1 percent, or ¥5 trillion a year, and create 290,000 new jobs nationwide, according to the government.

“The world is now facing raging waves of protectionism. So the signing ceremony at this time is particularly meaningful,” a senior Foreign Ministry official said earlier this month on condition of anonymity.

“The impact for Japan is big,” the official said.

Fukunari Kimura, an economics professor at Keio University, said the EU is now trying to accelerate the ratification process.

“This is a repercussion of President Trump’s policies. They will try to ratify it before Brexit in March of next year,” he said in an interview with The Japan Times last week.

But the deal has raised concerns among some domestic farmers, in particular those from Hokkaido, the country’s major dairy producer.

According to an estimate by the Hokkaido Prefectural Government, the EPA will cut national production in the agriculture, fishery and forestry industries by up to ¥114.3 billion a year, with Hokkaido accounting for 34 percent of the predicted losses.

“The sustainable development of the prefecture’s agriculture, forestry and fisheries industries is our top priority. We need to make efforts to raise our international competitiveness,” Hokkaido Gov. Harumi Takahashi said during a news conference July 10.

Japan and the EU had reached a basic agreement on the EPA in December.

Tokyo also led negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership free trade pact after Trump withdrew the U.S. from the deal in January 2017.

In March, 11 countries including Japan signed the so-called TPP11, or a revised TPP pact that does not include the U.S.

“The Japan-EU EPA is another important step for Japan to strengthen its trade relationship with key trading partners, and demonstrate that trade liberalization is alive and well, even if the United States is taking a different stance,” wrote Wendy Cutler, a former acting deputy U.S. Trade Representative, in an email sent to The Japan Times last week.

“The EU deal also reduces Japanese dependence on the U.S. market and thus increases its leverage to resist unreasonable trade demands by the United States,” she wrote.

According to the Foreign Ministry, the EU, which accounts for 22 percent of the world’s GDP, was the destination for 11.4 percent of Japanese exports in 2016. In the same year, the figure for the U.S. was 20.2 percent and 17.7 percent for China.

In 2016, Japan’s exports to the EU totaled ¥8 trillion, while reciprocal trade was ¥8.2 trillion.

The deal provides tariff relief for both parties and can improve the quantity of trade between them, expand the economy and create many jobs. It also helps to further diversify their trade portfolios in order to mitigate the prospect of a single global trade partner wielding too much influence, which in turn provides a certain amount of cover from any adverse actions or demands from a single actor. In this way, current trade dependencies can be reduced and free and diversified trade is further bolstered.

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