How they see us: Trade war ripples across the globe
When the world’s two biggest economies start slugging each other, everyone gets hurt, said Nile Bowie in Asia Times (China). Singapore, for example, is caught squarely in the crossfire of the trade war between the U.S. and China. Take the Singapore-based company Hybrionic Pte, which makes electronic circuits used in cars, phones, and hearing aids. The firm exports its products to the U.S., but it manufactures some of its components in China. Its “business has been drastically impacted by the U.S.-China trade war” and hit hard by tariffs. That’s typical of Singapore’s electronics sector, which shrank by 24 percent in July. Some companies plan to pull out of China and relocate manufacturing in the Philippines or Malaysia, but for now they see dwindling sales—and shrinking profits.
Those planned relocations are why U.S. President Donald Trump’s promise to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. is an empty one, said Adam Behsudi and Finbarr Bermingham in the South China Morning Post (China). Sebastien Breteau, CEO of Qima, a Hong Kong company that inspects goods for the U.S. market, said its data show that those jobs are going to other Asian countries with low production costs. “The winner is not going to be the U.S., and it’s not going to be China,” Breteau said. The winners are “going to be Vietnam, Indonesia, Cambodia, and very likely Mexico and Bangladesh.” But don’t bet on many U.S. firms actually leaving China, said Hu Weijia in the Global Times (China). General Motors now sells more cars in China than in the U.S. If GM loses the Chinese market, “the country’s auto supply chain will shrink, and mass unemployment will result.” American businesses surely know that “a decision to give up the Chinese market is just suicide.”
No matter where manufacturing moves, most countries will lose, said The Sydney Morning Herald (Australia) in an editorial. China will cut Australian imports as its economy slows, and our dollar has already slumped against the U.S. dollar in anticipation. We are being forced to navigate “between the U.S., our key strategic ally, and China, our key economic partner.” For Africa, the indicators are also abysmal, said Ed Stoddard in the South African DailyMaverick.co.za. The prices of iron ore and copper have tanked in the past few months, dropping some 20 percent. African mining countries like Zambia and South Africa will be hit in the short term, as will many South American countries. But the long-term impacts are even worse. Copper and iron “are good barometers for the state of the global economy” because they are “key ingredients for building stuff.” When they are not in demand, it means less economic activity for everyone. A global downturn always hits poorer countries hardest—and we’ll be able to “blame President Trump for this one.” ■