Interview: U.S. trade protectionism pushes trade partners to eye alternative markets

Source: Xinhua| 2017-08-21 23:00:00|Editor: Mu Xuequan
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by Shen Zhonghao

FRANKFURT, Aug. 21 (Xinhua) -- The danger stemming from U.S. President Donald Trump's "America First" policy will push Germany and even Europe to expand their trade relations with prosperous regions in Asia, said an expert from German Council on Foreign Relations.

"Trump's 'America-First' policy has little attraction to U.S. allies in Asia and Europe to strengthen bilateral trade relations with the United States," Josef Braml said in an interview with Xinhua, against the backdrop of the recent U.S. trade protectionism move.

The expert added that global entrepreneurs need alternatives in case of more barriers which hinder the efforts to gain access to American markets.

U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer on Friday formally launched a Section 301 investigation into alleged intellectual property practices by China under a rarely used 1974 trade law, triggering concerns that Washington may unilaterally impose restrictions that would eventually hurt both countries.

China and other countries which have strong export competitiveness and trade surplus with the United States, like Germany, discomforted Trump, who won the presidential election by advocating his populist criticism of free trade.

In 2016, the United States was Germany's biggest export customer, importing 107 billion euros (about 125 billion U.S. dollars) of goods while selling back just 58 billion (about 68 billion U.S. dollars), and Trump saw Germany's gigantic trade surpluses as "a problem."

It's observed that international companies raised their interest in the magnificent "Belt and Road" initiative of China, Braml said. For example, Deutsche Bank and China Development Bank intend to invest 3 billion U.S. dollars jointly over the next five years to support projects along the new silk road.

The initiative, proposed by China in 2013, aims to build trade and infrastructure networks connecting Asia with Europe and Africa along the ancient Silk Road trade routes to seek common development and prosperity.

Moreover, the expert added that China's neighbors might move even closer to the world's second-largest economy, seeking for more arrangements with China in economic and monetary issues, if Trump were to create more barriers to trade.

A possible framework for that is the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), a proposed free trade agreement (FTA) between the 10 member states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and the six countries with which ASEAN has existing free trade agreements -- Australia, China, India, Japan, South Korea and New Zealand, Braml said.