Frihandel i media vecka 3

Inte många svenska nyheter om frihandel denna vecka. Broderlandet Finland får bidra med en notis, de negativa effekterna av Trumps handelskrig dominerar som vanligt, och till sist en påminnelse om att det i USA även finns en extrem vänster i ytterkanten av Demokraterna. 


Finska Hufvudstadbladet citerar Timo Vuori vid Centralhandelskammaren om att Mays Brexitavtal röstades ner. I Finland är man lika oroad som i Sverige för utvecklingen: 

”Ett brittiskt utträde ur EU skapar avsevärda problem för över 15 000 finländska export- och importföretag, samt för de cirka 200 finländska dotterbolagen i Storbritannien som sysselsätter 12 000 personer där.

Det säger direktören för internationella ärenden vid Centralhandelskammaren, Timo Vuori i ett pressmeddelande.

På motsvarande sätt får de drygt 300 brittiska dotterbolagen i Finland med 20 000 anställda också bekymmer.

– Ett avtalslöst brexit innebär att Storbritannien ur ett handelspolitiskt perspektiv hamnar utanför EU:s inre marknad över en natt och blir ett tredje land, som till exempel Ryssland är.

Vuori säger att den brittiska regeringen snarast bör utreda olika alternativ för att säkra en fungerande handel med EU-länderna efter den 29 mars, då Storbritannien lämnar unionen.

– Det ligger i företagens intresse i såväl Storbritannien som EU att garantera en fungerande rörlighet av varor och tjänster utan höga tullar och tröga tullformaliteter.

Vuori säger att även personalens rörlighet måste kunna ordnas flexibelt och enkelt.

– En hård brexit ligger varken i Storbritanniens eller i EU:s intresse. Marknaden skulle knappast ta illa vid sig om man inhiberade hela brexit, säger Vuori.”


Washington Post. USA:s biltillverkare lider under Trump, Handelskriget gör genom ökade priser på stål och aluminium gör bilarna dyrare. Inte ens lättnader i miljökrav är särskilt bra eftersom världsmarknaden efterfrågar mer miljövänliga bilar:

”Yet just as car companies have begun putting their plans in motion, Trump’s own policies and proposals risk creating additional head winds, analysts said. Targeting the electric-car incentives could put U.S. automakers at a disadvantage when many foreign firms, such as Toyota, Mercedes-Benz and Volvo, are moving ambitiously to electrify their portfolio of vehicles. Meanwhile, by hiking the price of steel and aluminum, Trump’s tariffs are expected to make buying a car more expensive in the United States — which, along with rising interest rates, could suppress U.S. vehicle demand in 2019. Trump’s trade barriers cost GM and Ford up to $1 billion each last year, the companies have said.

Even Trump’s friendliest overture to the industry — a proposal to halt the toughening of emissions targets — is generating uncertainty. GM, Ford, Toyota and Honda have all argued against the proposal, saying it would invite legal challenges, complicate strategic planning and hinder the transition to electric cars.

“Certainly the auto industry has been steamrolled by Trump and all the policies ranging from proposed things in Europe to enacted things in China to the NAFTA renegotiation to steel tariffs,” said Jeffrey Osborne, an industry analyst at Cowen & Co. “It’s just been a never-ending barrage of one-off items they’re having to adapt to, and it’s an industry that’s not as flexible as, say, the computer industry or mobile phones, where you can move things around in terms of supply and production locations. It’s not something you can quickly mitigate.”



Geoff Gilbert på den amerikanska nättidningen Truthout påminner oss om att det politiska vansinnet när det gäller handel inte är isolerat till Donald Trump och några av hans närmaste medarbetare från Republikanerna: 

”“Free” trade is free only for capital owners: the plutocratic few who own and control multinational corporations. When countries enter into free trade agreements, the governments of both countries effectively agree that their laws will not favor businesses from their country over businesses from any other countries. The main way that free trade does this is by attempting to reduce all tariffs to as close to 0 percent as possible, to eliminate import quotas that countries can use to limit the amount and types of goods imported from specified countries, and to discourage countries from more directly subsidizing their own businesses.

Far from promoting freedom for everyone, “free” trade empowers multinationals from the global North to control the world political economy in two important ways. First, free trade facilitates global North multinationals to maintain the unequal trade they established with the global South during colonialism. This increases inequalities of power and wealth between global North and global South. Second, free trade empowers global North multinationals to plan the world economy alongside global South multinationals, the junior partners of the global North multinationals, and to pit working-class people in the global North and global South against one another.

Thus, free trade is the modern form that imperialism takes. Throughout US history, the US government has used military force to expand free trade throughout the world. For more than a century, US-backed military coups and US-backed military dictatorships have led to partnerships between the US government, US multinationals and local elites across the globe that are built around creating trade that concentrates wealth for multinationals. This remains a core source of violence in the world with many implications. Today, for instance, Central American refugees at the southern US border are criminalized for fleeing a history of US military coups and intervention in Central America and the neoliberal trade policies that US multinationals and local elites created in their aftermath.

In the 1950s, the Argentinian economist Raúl Prebisch and the German economist Hans Singer developed “dependency theory,” which describes the unequal terms of trade that the global North established with the global South during colonialism — the same unequal economic relationships that free trade protects today. Prebisch and Singer attacked the mainstream trade theory of “comparative advantage,” which holds that countries naturally produce the goods that they are most efficient at producing. Core to the idea of comparative advantage — and to mainstream economic theory today — is the idea that the “invisible hand” of the market guides these natural choices.

However, during colonialism, global North colonizers did not rely upon the market’s “invisible hand.” Instead, they ensured — through physical violence and use of tariffs that they still prevent global South countries from using today — that they would have a monopoly on the production of manufactured and high-tech goods, the most profitable sectors of the economy. Global North corporations sold these goods to people in their own countries and to people in global South countries, while making sure that global South corporations lacked the capacity to make such goods on their own.

The global North turned the global South into an exporter of raw materials — a position from which they are still largely unable to escape — so that they could have access to an ever-expanding supply of low-cost raw materials that they needed for manufactured goods. Global North countries, by reorganizing global South economies to become raw material exporters, also ensured access to global South markets. Throughout colonialism, and to a somewhat lesser extent today, global North corporations have been able to own and capture the profits from global South corporations that produce raw materials, in addition to owning global North corporations that produce manufactured goods.”

Frihandel i media vecka 38

2019-09-19 Österrike hotar att fälla MERCOSUR-avtalet (EU:s nyligen framförhandlade frihandelsavtal med Brasilien, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina) enligt DW: Austrian lawmakers have rejected an EU-Mercosur trade deal, putting the fate of project in qu...

Frihandel i media vecka 38


Österrike hotar att fälla MERCOSUR-avtalet (EU:s nyligen framförhandlade frihandelsavtal med Brasilien, Uruguay, Paraguay and Argentina) enligt DW:

Austrian lawmakers have rejected an EU-Mercosur trade deal, putting the fate of project in question. Several European states have raised concerns about the South American trade agreement and the environment.

A free trade pact between the European Union and four South American countries was thrown further into doubt on Wednesday after the Austrian parliament rejected the deal.

Representatives from four out of five of the main parties in the Austrian parliament’s EU subcommittee voted against the EU-Mercosur free trade agreement.

Lawmaker Jörg Leichtfried of the Social Democratic Party (SPÖ), which brought the motion to a vote, outlined his party’s concerns in a Facebook post.

”In times of the climate crisis, having more products cross the sea that we can produce here in Europe is the absolutely wrong path,” he wrote shortly before the vote, later tweeting his pleasure that the veto had been approved.”


Under Austrian law, the government is obliged to follow the decision of the subcommittee at the EU level, where according to rules all 28 member states must agree to trade deals.

The motion to reject the pact found support from all parties except for the minority liberal party NEOS. The approval of the ÖVP was unexpected, as it had criticized a veto of the pact in early days.

SPÖ’s Leichtfried described the decision afterwards as ”a great success for consumer, environmental and animal protection as well as human rights.”

The trade agreement, reached last June after almost a decade of negotiations, was already put into doubt due to concerns over fires in the Amazon rainforest and the politics of Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro.

France, Ireland and Luxembourg had also suggested the trade deal may be put on hold over environmental concerns in the Amazon.”


Håkan Samuelsson, vd för Volvo Cars, skriver på debattplats i Dagens Industri  om oron för Brexit och att EU måste fortsätta driva global frihandel:

”Dagen då Storbritannien ska lämna den Europeiska Unionen kommer allt närmare och det ser ut som om uppbrottet är givet.

Beslutet är Storbritanniens eget och bör respekteras, men det är olyckligt för EU.

Ett EU utan det marknadsorienterade Storbritannien kommer på många sätt att vara en svagare union, vilket innebär en möjlighet för Sverige och vår nya utrikesminister Ann Linde (S).

Sverige är i grunden en öppen ekonomi som handlar med sina europeiska grannar och med länder över hela världen. Frihandel har varit avgörande för Sveriges ekonomiska och sociala framgångar.

Sverige gick med i EU 1995 och har sedan dess ofta delat Storbritanniens hållning i frågor som rör industripolitik och handel. Två marknadsorienterade länder, skeptiska till statliga stöd och industriell intervention.

Storbritanniens beslut att lämna EU kommer att försvaga detta block.”


I en global ekonomi där EU möter allt starkare konkurrens från Kina och USA och där handelskonflikter nu hämmar tillväxten, är det mer angeläget än någonsin att en röst som förespråkar marknadsekonomi och en fri rättvis handel hörs klart och tydligt inom EU.

Den politik som framgångsrikt skapat tillväxt, jobb och stabilitet måste få en fortsatt stark röst även i framtidens Europeiska Union.”



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16,5 % EU:s andel av världshandeln

”Free trade is our only goal…”

Cecilia Malmström har varit en mycket bra handelskommissionär. Här ett av hennes sista tal i den befattningen från den 4 september. Gemensamt för de flesta av Malmströms tal och artiklar är det pedagogiska innehållet. Medan många politiker (och andra) o...

”Free trade is our only goal…”

Cecilia Malmström har varit en mycket bra handelskommissionär. Här ett av hennes sista tal i den befattningen från den 4 september.

Gemensamt för de flesta av Malmströms tal och artiklar är det pedagogiska innehållet. Medan många politiker (och andra) oftast levererar till intet förpliktande floskler och syrefattiga abstraktioner ger Malmström både fakta och riktiga argument.

”So today I want to talk to you about a few things in trade – specifically: the things that feel intuitively true, but are in fact not, and what lessons we can draw from this for the future.

The biggest misconception I have seen on the rise is about tariffs. People who advocate for tariffs seem to base their argument on two things: The first is that tariffs target foreign businesses – when they in fact target the consumer. Tariffs are the tool of narrow interests seeking to protect industries at the expense of broader society.

The second is that if we make a product at home, we save money, strengthen the economy and create jobs. This is a tempting argument, but it is not true.

A basic principle of trade – that of comparative advantage, that specialisation is more efficient – seems to be increasingly forgotten these days. This type of thinking could lead to:

  • unsustainable business models
  • higher prices for ordinary citizens
  • and a more fragile economy in the long run

Tariffs are not the answer to a transforming global economy – they are rarely the answer to anything – they are the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot to hurt the shoe salesman.

Another big mistake people make these days is confusing a trade balance with a bank balance. They misread “exports” to mean profits and “imports” to mean losses. This ignores a range of economic realities.

For example, the increasingly service-oriented economies in Europe, or the fact that getting hold of low priced and reliable imports is vital for our companies. Or that in a modern global economy, good will cross borders many times before they are finished – bringing prosperity and jobs wherever they go.

In fact, a surplus in trade can be a bad sign. It is a sign of weak domestic demand – this can make countries sensitive to changes in the global economy. Balancing the books on trade is not like a household budget.

Another common misperception is that trade is only for big companies. But I know a few people who would disagree with that – Laura Fontan and Diego Cortizas, for example. They are the Spanish owners of Chula Fashion, a company based in Hanoi. They are a family-owned company with 68 employees. Our agreement with Vietnam will simplify rules of origin to make it easier to export to the EU.

Trade is important to companies, both big and small. However, it is true that small and medium-sized companies are underrepresented in global trade. Exporting can be hard. In a new market there are many barriers – customs, language, marketing. Throw tariffs and other trade barriers in and it becomes very difficult indeed.

Often larger companies can absorb these costs, but smaller companies might not be able to. This is why we have started to include provisions focusing on them in our trade agreements. These often include measures like:

  • providing information online on market requirements
  • an SME Helpdesk, where EU companies can protect themselves from unfair practices
  • access to helpful contacts, like the Enterprise Europe Network

In the coming years, it is estimated that 90% of global growth will originate outside the EU. Developing and emerging markets will account for 60% of world GDP by 2030. Smaller companies are well placed to take advantage of that – taking up their role in global supply chains. Trade is not just for the big guys – it is an opportunity for all.

Another presumption is that trade is automatically bad for the environment. In fact, the picture is much more complicated than that. For example, it is better for the climate for northern Europeans to buy tomatoes from Spain, despite the transport costs involved – it cuts back on other causes of emissions, such as heated greenhouses.

Lamb from New Zealand has been similarly shown to have its transport emissions offset by other factors. Both are counter-intuitive but that doesn’t mean they aren’t true. We must aim for a lower environmental impact – but we should keep our approaches evidence-based. Trade can have other indirect, positive spill-overs on the environment too:

  • encouraging innovation
  • spurring investment in low-carbon production to meet standards in other countries
  • lowering the costs of environmental goods and services
  • Indeed, a critical part of fighting climate change is improving local production processes. Trade and investment liberalisation can provide firms with incentives to adopt the high standards from elsewhere. Changes needed to meet these requirements, in turn, flow backwards along the supply chain. This stimulates the use of cleaner production processes and technologies throughout a country.

To encourage this, we have inserted environmental provisions into our agreements. Each of our comprehensive agreements has a chapter on Trade and Sustainable Development. Crucially, this helps us lock in commitments to implement international climate conventions, such as the Paris agreement. This is partly why our recent agreement with the four Mercosur states is so important.

It binds these four countries together with the EU at a time when the US has left the Paris accord and is encouraging others to do so. Nevertheless, there are times when the evidence is there right before our eyes. We all saw the reports over the last couple of weeks of the fires raging in the Amazon rainforest.

This is deeply worrying – the Amazon provides much of the world’s oxygen and must be protected. I firmly believe that the EU-Mercosur agreement can be part of the solution. But I want to make it very clear that we expect Brazil to live up to its commitments on deforestation. These are not just empty words.

Unfortunately things currently seem to be going in the wrong direction – and if it continues this could complicate the ratification process in Europe.

Looking forward, the new Commission President-elect Ursula von der Leyen has said that she would like to look at border adjustment measures on carbon. This could encourage our trading partners to reduce their CO2 emissions. Instinctively, many have voiced doubts, referring to international trade rules. Any measures must be non-discriminatory and WTO compliant, of course, but that is not to say that it cannot be done. New challenges mean looking beyond what we think we know and breaking down our preconceptions. As ever with trade, the devil will be in the details.”



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58,4 % EU:s andel av Sveriges export

Skrattar bäst som skrattar sist — men skrattet kan fastna i halsen

USA fick rätt mot EU när det gäller subventionerna till Airbus, men kan bli fällda av WTO i motsvarande fall där Boeing påstås ha fått subventioner. Om det senare avgörs till USA:s nackdel är det bra för EU, men kan bli ett problem för WTO.  Trump kommer...

Skrattar bäst som skrattar sist — men skrattet kan fastna i halsen

USA fick rätt mot EU när det gäller subventionerna till Airbus, men kan bli fällda av WTO i motsvarande fall där Boeing påstås ha fått subventioner. Om det senare avgörs till USA:s nackdel är det bra för EU, men kan bli ett problem för WTO.  Trump kommer att vilja hämnas.

WTO ger enligt Politico USA rätt att lägga strafftullar på EU för ungefär 100 miljarder kronor. Anledningen är att WTO funnit att Airbus fått stora subventioner.

”The United States has gotten the green light to impose billions of euros in punitive tariffs on EU products in retaliation for illegal subsidies granted to European aerospace giant Airbus.

Four EU officials told POLITICO that the World Trade Organization ruled in favor of the U.S. in the long-running transatlantic dispute and sent its confidential decision to Brussels and Washington on Friday.

The decision means that U.S. President Donald Trump will almost certainly soon announce tariffs on European products ranging from cheeses to Airbus planes. One official said Trump had won the right to collect a total of between €5 billion and €8 billion. Another said the maximum sum was close to $10 billion.

The decision sets the stage for a showdown between Europe and Washington just as the EU is transitioning to new leadership under incoming Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Trade Commissioner-designate Phil Hogan. In unveiling her team on Tuesday, von der Leyen signaled a robust approach to transatlantic disputes on trade and other issues with the Trump administration.

Washington has previously announced it would follow through with tariffs if it won the case in Geneva and has prepared a list of EU exports worth a total of $21 billion. The U.S. can choose products from that list and then tax them at different rates in order to claw back the total amount of damage resulting from the EU subsidies. Washington has previously estimated the amount of damage resulting from EU subsidies that are still in place at $11 billion.”


A spokesperson for the European Commission said Brussels would “not comment on leaks” but has “communicated to the United States that the European Union is ready to work on a fair and balanced solution for our respective aircraft industries.”

Brussels expects that its case against Boeing will give the bloc the right to retaliate with its own tariffs next year, and hopes to strike an agreement with Washington to simultaneously lift both sanctions.

“In the parallel Boeing case, we are expecting the WTO decision on the European Union sanction rights in the coming months,” the Commission spokesperson said.

“The mutual imposition of sanctions is counterproductive and damaging to our respective economies … The EU has, as recently as July, submitted concrete proposals to the US to which there has been no reaction so far. The EU’s willingness to find a fair settlement remains unchanged.””

Det ironiska i situationen är att Donald Trump aktivt motarbetar WTO och framför allt den tvistelösningsfunktion som nu givit USA rätt. Bland annat har Trump blockerat utnämningen av nya ”domare”, vilket inom några månader eller max ett år kommer att lamslå WTO:s tvistelösning.

Men domen från WTO visar samtidigt att organisationen spelar roll. 100 miljarder kronor är inte småpengar och framför allt måste EU nu sluta med sina subventioner.

Samtidigt påminner verkligheten om en Netflix-serie. Det kommer ständigt nya avsnitt. EU har anmält Boeing för att även de tar emot subventioner, men av amerikanska staten. Fallet prövas och ett avgörande kommer förmodligen inom de närmaste åtta månaderna. Frågan är vad som händer om USA och Donald Trump drabbas av ett bakslag från WTO mitt i presidentvalrörelsen och sen vinner presidentvalet? Då kan man räkna med att Trump blir ännu mer fientligt inställd till WTO, vilket skulle kunna leda till enorma bekymmer.

Även om WTO kritiseras för att frihandelsförhandlingarna inom organisationens ram i praktiken har upphört — vilket strikt sett är de förhandlande ländernas, inte WTO:s, fel — har organisationen en rad viktiga uppgifter när det gäller att få världshandeln att fungera smidigt.

Ett vingklippt WTO är inte en lockande vision för framtiden.




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5,3 % Andelen läkemedel av svensk export

Frihandel i media vecka 37

2019-09-12 Hans Stigsson på Norrköpings Tidningar menar att Kina är ett hot mot frihandeln:  "Företagsledare kan ofta vara anmärkningsvärt naiva i politiska frågor, ibland med negativa konsekvenser för den egna verksamheten. I Dagens Nyheter 11/9 för...

Frihandel i media vecka 37


Hans Stigsson på Norrköpings Tidningar menar att Kina är ett hot mot frihandeln: 

”Företagsledare kan ofta vara anmärkningsvärt naiva i politiska frågor, ibland med negativa konsekvenser för den egna verksamheten. I Dagens Nyheter 11/9 förvånas till exempel Katrine Marcal över den uppenbara aningslöshet det brittiska näringslivet ger uttryck för. På marknaden är den allmänna uppfattningen att det inte längre finns någon risk för en avtalslös brexit! Hoppas kan man ju alltid…

Andra, om än mer begripliga, exempel ges i samma tidning på DN Ekonomi. På Volvo hade man, i likhet med andra biltillverkare, inte räknat med annat än global frihandel under överskådlig framtid. Därför skapar det amerikanskinesiska handelskriget allvarliga problem. Bilar tillverkade USA går inte nödvändigtvis att exportera till Kina och vice versa.

Utvecklingen påvisar på ett påtagligt sätt hur viktig frihandel är för en exportberoende nation som den svenska. Men den påvisar också hur sårbar denna frihandel kan vara i en värld utan pålitliga internationella spelregler. Härvidlag är det många som, med viss rätt, kritiserar den amerikanske presidenten Donald Trumps halsstarrighet. Men grundproblemet är snarare kinesiskt.

Dels har Trump faktiskt inte helt fel som påtalar obalanser i handelsregler – och inte bara i relation till Kina. Till exempel har Förenta Staterna lägre biltullar än Kina, men också EU. Skillnaden mellan de två senare är att EU utgörs av regelstyrda demokratier. Detsamma gäller för övrigt USA. Trump är ingen diktator och han sitter inte heller på obestämd tid.

Det gör däremot Trumps kinesiske kollega Xi Jinping. Först nyligen har länder börjat inse de potentiellt allvarliga säkerhetspolitiska konsekvenserna av handel med Kina. För många är det emellertid business as usual som gäller. Inte så olikt de affärsmässiga relationerna med en Sverige sydlig granne på 30-talet.

För exempelvis Volvo innebär det en kinesisk huvudägare, i form av Geely och dess grundare Li Shufu. Li är på många sätt en beundransvärd person, men han är naturligtvis lika beroende av kommunistpartiets direktiv som alla andra kineser. Så när en ny Volvo-fabrik anlades i Daqing dikterades detta av regionalpolitiska snarare än affärsmässiga skäl.

Vad gör Volvo och andra företag om den kinesiska diktaturen börjar utnyttja sitt ägande till att utöva utpressning? Vad gör en stat som den svenska om en så stor och viktig arbetsgivare som Volvo riskerar att drabbas.”


DN:s Carl-Johan von Seth skriver om EU:s eventuella co2-tullar:

”Man kan se det som att klimatparagraferna har fått viss effekt redan innan avtalet är påskrivet. Det har skänkt geopolitisk tyngd åt den bojkott som europeiska konsumenter och företag nu hotar med.

Utan ett avtal med stora ekonomiska värden i potten hade pressen på Brasilien varit svagare. Landets näringsliv är tydligt skakat av reaktionerna.

EU går i och med avtalet samtidigt miste om ett tillfälle att ge klimatpolitiken ännu vassare klor. Klimatparagraferna saknar skarpa sanktionsmedel. Löftesbrott leder i första hand till samtal och förhandlingar. Bättre än inget. Men eftersom Parisavtalet i sin tur bygger på mjuka åtaganden har man här skapat dubbla lager av mesighet.

Ursula von der Leyen, som blir nästa ordförande för EU-kommissionen, vill dock ändra på det. Hon släppte i somras en bomb som inte har fått den uppmärksamhet den förtjänar: Nästa EU-kommission ska lägga fram förslag om ett slags klimattullar.

Hon lovar en gränsskatt på koldioxid som ska kunna riktas mot länder utanför EU. Tanken är att väga upp för att andra inte gör tillräckligt. Ett problem med offensiv klimatpolitik i Europa är annars att smutsig produktion flyttar och att varorna i stället importeras. Från Kina, till exempel.

Bland ekonomer är idén okontroversiell. Förra årets ekonomipristagare William Nordhaus förespråkar starkt att länder ska använda den ekonomiska piskan mot varandra. Gränsskatt på koldioxid omfamnas också i ett upprop med 3.500 nationalekonomer i USA.

Motargumenten har handlat om det skulle sätta frihandeln ur spel och rubba de globala spelregler som EU värnar om.

Men professor Henrik Horn, expert på handelsavtal, skriver i en färsk kommentar att det inte behöver bli så. EU kan ha kakan och äta den. Frihandel och klimat går att främja samtidigt.

Det kan visa sig vara mäktiga vapen i klimatpolitiken som nu smids i Bryssel.”


Mer spagetti. Brasilien och Mexiko har inlett samtal om ett frihandelsavtal:

”Brazil and Mexico have begun talks on a free trade deal, officials announced seeking to deepen commercial ties between the two largest economies in Latin America as trade tensions threaten to undermine global growth.

Marcos Troyjo, Brazil’s deputy economy minister for foreign trade, said Brazil had formally started free trade talks with Mexico, which in June ratified a trade pact with the United States and Canada to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Troyjo said that Mexico had traditionally focused on trading with its NAFTA partners but wanted to diversify. He believed Brazil would be able to export more agricultural products to Mexico, Latin America’s No. 2 economy.

Mexico’s economy ministry confirmed there had been talks.

“We have had conversations to see how we can advance toward a liberalization, but we still haven’t defined the path to take,” the ministry said in a statement. “But we’re working on it.”

Trade between Brazil and Mexico has been less than desired, Troyjo said at a conference hosted by the Brazil-China Business Council in Sao Paulo.

The U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement has changed things, he said, and “Brazil has a more immediate interest in increasing its exports of agricultural commodities to Mexico.”

Lawmakers in the United States and Canada have yet to ratify the agreement.

The talks between Brazil and Mexico represent the latest chapter in Brazil’s efforts to open up its protected economy and trade more with the rest of the world.

Under far-right President Jair Bolsonaro, Brazil has begun talks on a trade treaty with the United States and is hoping a hard-won pact between the European Union and Mercosur will be ratified.”

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Stor humor i viktig fråga

Det är svårt att inte sjunga med i den här videon om USMCA ("nya Nafta") som har producerats av Missouri Farm Bureau, med budskapet att avtalet måste godkännas.    

Stor humor i viktig fråga

Det är svårt att inte sjunga med i den här videon om USMCA (”nya Nafta”) som har producerats av Missouri Farm Bureau, med budskapet att avtalet måste godkännas.



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1,1 % Oceanien och Antarktis andel av Sveriges export

Frihandel i Afrika påstås öka ojämlikheten — men är det ens möjligt?

Kritiker mot frihandel angriper nu det stora afrikanska frihandelsavtal som är på väg att godkännas och träda i kraft. Men kritiken är irrelevant -- mest en blåkopia av den kritik som riktas mot frihandelsavtal i den rika världen. Washington Post publice...

Frihandel i Afrika påstås öka ojämlikheten — men är det ens möjligt?

Kritiker mot frihandel angriper nu det stora afrikanska frihandelsavtal som är på väg att godkännas och träda i kraft. Men kritiken är irrelevant — mest en blåkopia av den kritik som riktas mot frihandelsavtal i den rika världen.

Washington Post publicerar i veckan en artikel om det nya afrikanska frihandelsavtalet ACFTA.

Skribenten Ishaan Tharoor är kunnig, men har tyvärr ett traditionellt vänsterperspektiv på handel. Han förefaller tro att problem med brist på investeringar, dålig politisk ledning, ojämlikhet och svag industriell bas (årets underdrift) i vissa afrikanska länder kommer att förvärras av frihandelsavtalet. Tharoor citerar organisationen Oxfam som påpekar att de tre rikaste personerna i Afrika äger lika mycket som 650 miljoner av de fattigaste — ungefär halva Afrikas befolkning. Vad det nu har med ett alldeles nytt frihandelsavtal att göra?

Men det är inte förvånande då en stor del av afrikanerna inte ens lever i en penningekonomi eller har lagfart på den mark de brukar. Om man etablerade äganderätter till mark i Afrika skulle den dels kunna värderas och dels bli betydligt värdefullare för de som ägde och brukade den. Plötsligt skulle marken kunna belånas, säljas, incitamenten till investeringar skulle öka och framför allt; plötsligt skulle värdet synas i de samhällsekonomiska kalkylerna. Då skulle förstås Oxfams jämförelse se helt annorlunda ut.

Kapitalismen fungerar inte utan kapital och mark är en av de viktigaste kapitalbaserna i ett utvecklingsland. Förhoppningsvis kommer ACFTA vara en faktor som snabbar på Afrikas inträde i den globala penningekonomin och finanssystemet.

(För en utveckling av betydelsen av äganderätter läs gärna Hernando De Sotos The Mystery of Capital, här som gratisbok.)

Nedanstående citat är typiskt:

“We need to learn from trade in the era of globalization, trade that was inextricably linked to a race to the bottom on regulation. In an era without rules nor referees, the rich bullies took charge to take most of the spoils,” Winnie Byanyima, executive director of Oxfam International, told Today’s WorldView. “Richer countries, richer companies and richer people gained most from liberalized trade.”

Byanyima’s organization serves as the town crier at the World Economic Forum’s various annual events, warning the global jet-setting elites of the yawning divides their policies have created. A free-trade deal, Byanyima added, “will be great for Africa only if it reduces economic inequality and creates good quality jobs, especially for women and for our young people.”

So what’s to be done? Many of the African attendees at the forum expressed exasperation with the continent’s political elites. “The young people who are out there are extremely angry,” said Oby Ezekwesili, a prominent former Nigerian politician and civil society activist. She argued that the steady progress of a Pan-African trade pact meant little if political leaders didn’t confront the systemic problems within their societies. “We have a problem of bad politics on the continent.”

The conference’s solution for this is now familiar: A focus on the myriad innovative projects and business initiatives — from solar tech to micro-electricity grids to digital banking to companies that seed clouds with artificial rain — that are pushing the continent forward despite its laggard governments.”

Den ovanstående beskrivningen är delvis fel, från början rika länder, företag och människor är inte vinnarna på global frihandel.

Men perspektivet är udda på ett mer övergripande plan.Winnie Byanyima resonerar på samma sätt som frihandels- och marknadskritiker gör i EU och USA. Men den som kollar statistik över ekonomiska förhållanden i Afrika ser att knappast något kan bli särskilt mycket sämre. Ojämlikhet, fattigdom, korruption, förtryck, krig — allt elände finns redan där. Ett ”race to the bottom on regulation” är ett perspektiv som skulle vara skrattretande om den tragiska verkligheten inte var den att det knappast finns några fungerande regleringar av något i Afrika. De flesta har inte ens tillgång till ett fungerande rättssystem. I den mån det finns offentliga tjänstemän som har koll är de oftast korrumperade.

Att ett frihandelsavtal skulle kunna göra problemen värre är en befängd idé.

Tvärt om visar avtalet att Afrikas ledare, i vilket fall några av dem, inser att socialism, protektionism och biståndsberoende inte är vägen framåt. De förstår att marknad och frihandel är en nödvändig förutsättning för ekonomiska framsteg och för att kunna bygga stabila och fungerande rättsstater.

Sen är det förstås ytterst oklart hur lång tid det kommer att ta att etablera de institutionella förutsättningarna för att få avtalet att börja fungera. Det kommer ta tid, men samtidigt uppstår starka intressen för att politiker och administration skall få systemen på plats. De som gör stora investeringar, både afrikaner och investerare från andra världsdelar, kommer kräva att administrationen kring handel, investeringar, rättssystem, infrastruktur och mycket annat fungerar.

ACFTA kommer förstås inte lösa alla Afrikas problem, men det är ett mycket viktigt steg mot att modernisera Afrika och binda dess stater samman.





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Frihandel i media vecka 36

2019-09-05 Andrew van Dam i Washington Post analyserar i en lång artikel anledningarna till att USA:s ekonomi mattas av och industriproduktionen faller. Handelskriget är en av anledningarna:  "New tariffs are being announced all the time. It will be ye...

Frihandel i media vecka 36


Andrew van Dam i Washington Post analyserar i en lång artikel anledningarna till att USA:s ekonomi mattas av och industriproduktionen faller. Handelskriget är en av anledningarna: 

”New tariffs are being announced all the time. It will be years before we can measure their full effects, but we’re starting to get data on one of the first. When Trump imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum in spring 2018, it boosted the fortunes of companies such as U.S. Steel as prices rose. But the honeymoon didn’t last. The nation’s second-largest producer has since idled two blast furnaces. It recently announced that it would lay off “less than 200” employees in Michigan. Its customers are squeezed by a global slowdown linked, in part, to the president’s trade wars.

The president has repeatedly professed his love for John Deere, and he recently blamed the Federal Reserve for making it difficult for the Illinois equipment manufacturer to compete. But on an August earnings call, Luke Chandler, the company’s chief economist, listed “uncertainties caused by trade disputes” alongside weather and disease as drags on the agriculture sector. He did not mention interest rates. The company, meanwhile, has lowered expectations and vowed to cut costs.

This summer, a Houston-based pipeline firm announced that it would charge users an additional fee to cover a tariff-related rise in steel costs, as originally reported by Collin Eaton at Reuters.

In the September beige book, a regular report on local economic activity from regional Federal Reserve officials, businesses remained optimistic, but tariffs and trade were cause for concern almost everywhere.

In the Boston region, officials reported that an electrical equipment business “said that the tariffs had led them to invest more in automating factories in the U.S.” In the New York region, a major retailer said sales had slowed in early August, in part because it had to raise prices because of tariffs. In the Kansas City region, trade uncertainty weighed on incomes in an already weak agriculture sector. And everyone from manufacturers in the Cleveland region to service-industry firms in the Richmond area said they had delayed investments because of trade tensions.

It’s difficult to discern where the fallout from the trade war ends and where the global slowdown begins. Especially because one helped beget the other.

According to Hicks, the true price of Trump-related trade disruptions will be seen in the reordering of the global supply chain. “That process of moving commerce around to avoid tariffs becomes very costly, it delays production,” he said. “That sort of disruption is enough to significantly slow growth,” he added later.

Hicks noted that recreational-vehicle manufacturers’ sales have begun to fall. RV sales have tended to drop in advance of the coming recession — they’re the sort of middle-class luxury that gets cut first when budgets tighten, as recently reported by the Wall Street Journal’s Shayndi Raice. One Texas manufacturer said steel prices have risen 22 percent since the tariffs bit, Raice reported.

Fitzgerald said the uncertainty driving the economic slowdown can’t all be blamed on the president’s trade war with China. There’s chaos in Venezuela, escalating disputes with Iran, Brexit and even an upcoming election in Canada. According to one widely watched index, global policy uncertainty is hovering near its highest levels on record.

“There are a lot of people who want to hang all of that on trade,” Fitzgerald said. “Trade’s part of it, but it’s not all of it. There are a lot of other things going on.”

Traditionally, Hicks said, when the U.S. economy tips into recession, manufacturing is hit first and hardest. Right now, it’s showing signs of weakness, but it’s still unclear how far a downturn might go.

Manufacturing employment growth is slowing, production is down and factory owners are cutting hours. In July, the most recent month for which the Labor Department has data, overall hours worked by nonmanagerial factory employees declined at the fastest rate since early 2010. Similarly, the average factory worker is getting less overtime than at any point since 2011.

Trump has promised that a range of elusive trade deals, particularly with China, will revive U.S. manufacturing. But there is no sign of a breakthrough. And in the interim, many U.S. companies are waiting to see what happens.”



Tidskriften The Week skriver att ju mer Donald Trump handelskrigar, desto mer stöder amerikanerna frihandel:

”President Donald Trump’s new round of tariffs on Chinese goods is going into effect even as we speak. But the more Trump escalates his trade war, the more unpopular protectionism gets with American voters, especially Democratic ones. So all the Democratic presidential candidates are sprinting to put distance between their trade policies and Trump’s America Firstism, right? Wrong!

Indeed, the leading presidential contenders, Sens. Bernie Sanders (Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (Mass.), who are setting the tone for the rest of the pack, are functionally identical if not worse than Trump on this issue. And the reason is that they don’t think that average Democratic voters care enough about trade to punish them for their protectionism.

It seems like Trump’s trade bashing has done more to bring people around to the cause of free trade in two years than English political economist Adam Smith’s canonical defense in The Wealth of Nations did in nearly 250. Indeed, literally every time the ”chosen one” saber-rattles against China, Americans become more positively disposed toward trade. The Chicago Council Survey found last year that support for trade among Americans had touched an all-time high with 82 percent of respondents saying it was good for the economy, 85 percent saying it was good for consumers like them, and 67 percent saying it was good for America. These findings were pretty much confirmed by a Pew Research poll last month that found that compared to two years ago when only 50 percent Americans overall believed that free trade was good for the country, now 65 percent think so.


Given all this, Democrats should be mounting a vigorous case against Trump’s trade policies, pointing out that beggaring-your-partner trade wars aren’t ”easy to win,” they are self-injurious.

But that is not what they are doing. They are harrumphing against Trump’s Twitter diplomacy and his hyper-belligerent style. But they are otherwise unwilling to stick up for trade or even defend the era of trade liberalization that President Bill Clinton ushered in with NAFTA and the normalization of trade ties with China.

Indeed, among the top 10 Democrats who will be on the debate stage next week, with the exception of former Texas Rep. Beto O’ Rourke who represents the NAFTA-dependent border town of El Paso and is polling at 2 percent, not a single one of them is willing to defend the treaty. Former President Joe Biden, who voted for NAFTA when he was a senator, has gone mum. He slams Trump’s ”irresponsible tariff war” but then undercuts his own criticism by declaring ”we do need to get tough with China.” Sen. Kamala Harris (Calif.) tosses off-hand comments about Trump’s tariffs being a ”trade tax” but then quickly abandons the subject. South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg has lambasted Trump’s yammering about America’s export imbalance with China as a red herring but otherwise is totally opaque about his plans.

But there is no ambiguity with Sanders and Warren. Sanders has always been an unrepentant protectionist. If he could have his druthers, he would ban trade with any country poorer than America on the Marxist theory that competition with lower-wage workers leads to the immiseration of the American working class.

Warren is even more ideologically ambitious. Like Trump, she couches her plans under the rubric of fair trade. But for Trump, at least in theory if not practice, that means forcing other countries to slash their trade barriers and moving toward a no tariff world where no one has an artificial advantage over America. Warren, however, wants to use America’s economic might to forcibly enlist countries in a leftist crusade. As The Nation’s Todd Tucker, approvingly notes, ”Warren’s trade plan is as much a theory of power as it is a set of ideas.”

She has drawn up a tall list of preconditions that countries must meet to qualify to trade with America. These cover almost everything on the leftist wishlist including: protecting religious freedom and human rights, signing the Paris Accords, fighting public corruption, combating sex trafficking, stopping tax evasion, and enforcing labor rights. She’d renegotiate every existing trade deal in accordance with her perfection criteria. But given that no country on the planet, not even America, currently lives up to her lofty standards, basically global trade would come to a grinding halt under her.

This is totally cuckoo and makes Trump look like a veritable trade dove. Even a liberal professor like Daniel Drezner, a columnist for The Washington Post, admits: ”Elizabeth Warren’s trade policy is even more protectionist and unilateralist than Donald Trump’s.” Yet, he says, if she’s the Democratic nominee, he’d ”hold his nose” and vote for her.”



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