If you’re a millennial like me, odds are your refrigerator and recycling bin are currently jammed full of colorful cans and bottles of sparkling water. But an ongoing trade dispute about beef could directly affecting the choice of sparkling water available on your grocery store shelves.
Protectionism is making a comeback. Governments aren’t just trying to protect traditional sectors such as agriculture,chemicals, and machinery out of concern for lost jobs or domestic economic interests. They’re also intervening in the digital economy and innovation-intensive industries as critical components of national competitiveness.
We often talk about “trade wars,” but in the era of a rules-based trading system the phrase typically refers to the use of tariffs or import restrictions to inflict economic harm. It was not always so. Before the GATT and its design for the peaceful settlement of commercial disputes, the use of military power in international economics was commonplace. Take the case of the fight over control of nutmeg production in the 1660s.
Forty percent of American marriage proposals happen between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day. Nothing is more synonymous with an engagement than a sparkling diamond ring. Happy couples have international trade to thank for their symbol of commitment: the United States imports 99 percent of its gemstones from other countries.
A whopping 20 percent of the nearly 400 million pounds of cranberries we consume per year are eaten during Thanksgiving week alone. It’s a logical growth strategy to share our love of cranberries with global eaters year-round, but without a trade agreement with our largest markets, we could lose out to growers from other countries.
Safeguards are designed to help domestic producers adjust to competition, but there at least four reasons they don’t help the American consumer. Two high profile petitions will test how the administration deals with these competing concerns.
If the Trump administration seeks an end to binding dispute settlement procedures, it would represent a significant departure from decades of the United States leading the global charge for making dispute settlement in trade agreements binding and enforceable.
The North Korean regime continues to amass missile and nuclear technologies, through a combination of global licit and illicit transactions. North Korea trades for currency, for fuel, and for military materiel to preserve its power. Will expanded sanctions choke off revenue for weapons programs, or will continued trade ties with China throw North Korea a lifeline?
Digital trade is a boon to consumers and businesses all over the world. But cyberspace is a Darwinian environment with predators and victims. Cyber criminals are fast and innovative. Defenders are too often slow and reactive. The risks, however, can be reduced and managed.
The scope and speed of cyber attacks show just how interconnected and fragile the infrastructure of global commerce is. It’s a vulnerability that criminals are all too eager to exploit: cybercrime is a booming international business.