Another Protectionist Salvo

By Isaac Cohen*

Relative calm prevailed lately on the trade statements emanating from the White House. Until last week, at President Donald Trump’s signature of an executive order to investigate if steel imports are threatening national security, because the domestic arms industry dependence on foreign suppliers. National security is frequently invoked to justify protectionist measures, but thus far it has not been used against steel imports. For instance, domestic food supplies should be protected because it allegedly threatens national security to depend from foreign sources.

During the ceremony, veering off the steel issue, President Trump used the occasion to reiterate his aversion against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), calling it a “trade disaster.” However, this time Mexico was spared. The attack was against Canada, the main US trading partner, because of a dispute about Canadian dairy imports from the state of Wisconsin. According to President Trump, what Canadians have “done to our farm workers is a disgrace.”

Such are the vagaries of protectionism. A dispute about a single product, concerning 75 milk producers from a specific region, is used to question a whole trading relationship with two neighbors, which amounted in 2016 to an impressive one trillion dollars per year.

*International analyst and consultant. Commentator on economic and financial issues for CNN en Español TV and radio, UNIVISION, TELEMUNDO and other media. Former Director, UNECLAC Washington

About Ramón Jiménez

Ramón Jiménez, Managing Editor de MetroLatinoUSA.Com (MLN). Graduado de la Escuela de Periodismo de la Universidad del Distrito de Columbia (UDC). Email: [email protected]

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