Commentary: "America First" means anything but fair trade

Source: Xinhua| 2018-01-28 22:59:07|Editor: Liangyu
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U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a speech during the 48th annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 26, 2018. U.S. President Donald Trump said Friday that he would always put America first when it came to trade, but "America First" does not mean America alone. (Xinhua/Xu Jinquan)

BEIJING, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Unsurprisingly, U.S. President Donald Trump themed his presidential debut at Davos around "America First," but will that lead to the fair trade he has been calling for?

During his roughly 15-minute speech, Trump spent about 12 minutes speaking about the prosperous and lucrative U.S. economy that would flourish under his America First policy.

For a long time, the huge trade deficit with countries including China, has been regarded by the United States as an unfairness brought by free trade.

However, the reason behind the deficit is complex. The complementarity between trade partners and the economic structure of each country are all factors contributing to the deficit. Putting all the blame on other countries while ignoring itself is neither objective nor fair.

Meanwhile, to judge fairness on trade, one should not focus only on trade volume, but also on real benefits. For example, through free trade, the American people bought more goods with high quality at a lower price while American companies gain more profit through investment in countries with a comparative advantage.

A survey shows that Sino-U.S. trade helps each American family save 850 U.S. dollars on average annually. From this perspective, what is unfair?

Under the banner of free trade, the United States was once committed to promoting the world free trade system and enjoyed the advantage of being at the center of it.

But in the new era, facing the rise of emerging economies, the United States chose to turn from fair trade to a policy of "America First," shrugging off its due international responsibility.

The United States is like the boxer who vows to obey the rules when dominating the fight, but claims the rules must be changed when he is losing. This is not how a responsible world power should behave.

Mutual benefit is the fundamental principle of modern international trade, while double standards will just backfire.

"America First" provided a ladder for Trump to the presidency, but it could become a fish bone in his throat when it comes to trade with its partners. Fair trade with "America First" as the priority is like shooting one's self in the foot.

Donald Trump's first anniversary in office ran into the shutdown of the U.S. government, and if the United States continues to brandish the "America First" protectionist hammer it will encounter a deeper and severer crisis.