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Editorial: Can Donald Trump reverse the trend of globalization?

Donald Trump Photo: AP

The just-concluded APEC summit in Peru can be seen as the indication of a global power shift where China appears to take the lead in promoting economic cooperation across the Pacific Ocean through the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) after president-elect Donald Trump announced to withdraw the US from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) advocated by the Obama administration.

The US Congress has called a halt on the review of the TPP. The rejection of the multilateral trade agreement is one of the highlights in Trump's anti-globalization policies, which also include setting restrictions on immigration, imposing 45 percent tariffs on Chinese goods and getting back jobs in the manufacturing sector stolen by China and Mexico.

However, it is not easy for Trump to stop the course of globalization.

Since 2008, the US and Europe have hit a bump in recovering from the financial crisis, contributing to the rise of anti-globalization sentiments. This is the major reason behind the UK's exit from the EU and the election of Trump as the next US president.

Meanwhile, the development of the world economy has benefited from globalization. The current global economic order was also established by the US after World War II. Depending on cheap labor and goods brought by globalization, the US has succeeded in maintaining its dominant position in the world economy for several decades.

After the US showed its inclination toward protectionism, at this year's APEC summit, many countries including Australia, Japan and ASEAN nations chose to side with China by supporting the China-led RCEP, as a growing number of countries regard China as a major power to promote globalization.

Trump will meet strong resistance from countries around the world and even his allies if he arbitrarily pushes his anti-globalization agenda, as reflected in the Leaders' Declaration made during this year's APEC summit, in which the APEC leaders agreed to maintain market openness, oppose trade protectionism in any form, extend the moratorium on protectionist measures to 2020 and eliminate protectionist measures counterproductive to trade and revitalization of global economy. Trump's retroaction will isolate the US from the global economy and push them into the arms of China. It also goes against his political goal to "make America great again".

In addition, Trump's protectionist policies will bring nothing to the blue-collar workers, his major support base in the US. For example, Trump cannot make Apple's manufacturing come back to the US because the cost of producing an iPhone in the US will be twice as much as that in China, which will lead to a jump in prices and a decline in profits. And whether the US has enough workers to make iPhones is another problem.

Also, Trump's pledge to impose 45 percent tariffs on Chinese goods and quit the World Trade Organization to protect the domestic companies will intensify inflation because domestic consumption accounts for about 70 percent of the US' GDP. If the cheaper products made available because of globalization are no longer available, the inflation will rise and economic growth will slow down in the US.

Therefore, Trump can make the use of protectionism and populism to win the hearts of Americans, but whether he can realize what he promised to the voters remains to be seen.

(The article is translated and edited by Ding Yi)

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