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The changing world order

  • Published at 12:03 am August 29th, 2019
Bolsonaro
Photo: REUTERS

The impact will be felt the most in the developing world

Through a plethora of sanctions and tariff barriers, President Donald Trump has set in motion a new world order that threatens to undo years of negotiation towards a global village. His “America first” philosophy has led to a fierce tariff war with China and the Chinese are now beginning to retaliate.

Up until now, it was more of a tit-for-tat in tariffs, with the latest salvo being a directive from the US president to American manufacturers to produce the goods that the Chinese export. Whether these are cost effective is another question altogether. 

On the flip side, China can afford to source its agriculture commodities required from elsewhere. That is one of the areas America’s farming community is hurting. America has left no friend and foe untouched in its sanction agenda and now, China is responding in kind by threatening the same against companies that help manufacture the F16 fighter jets, 66 of which the US has agreed to sell to Taiwan for $8 billion. 

This hits at the heart of China’s foreign policy, since it regards Taiwan as part of China no matter what the rest of the world may think. It has so far trod softly over the troubled Hong Kong, where protests continue for a true democracy not dictated by an administration answerable to China.

After withdrawing from the climate change agreement, the US is now rumoured to be considering withdrawing from the World Trade Organization. That this will be a disaster is putting it lightly. 

It will impact the developing world and revert the world to only bilateral trading agreements hitting all organizations, such as the European Union, that operates trade within Europe outside of WTO rules while using the same WTO rules for trade with the rest of the world.

Yet, the US has agreed on a paltry $20 million to fight the Amazon Forest fires and other wild fires raging even as we speak. This too after Brazilian President Jair Bolsanoro’s fiery diatribe that the Amazon fires are an internal issue for his country. He has been known to actually favour clearing more forest areas for agriculture and habitation in spite of the opposition from the indigenous population. 

To his favour is the bulk of an unseeing population that does not understand that these forests generate 20% of the world’s oxygen. They are supportive of Bolsanoro, having elected him on a platform of radical issues that shocked the saner elements of the world. Brazil’s population has the right to elect the leadership that will apparently do away with the ills facing the country due to sheer bad governance. Time will tell whether Bolsanoro is the answer.

The broader issues of sanctions, tariff wars, and an abject aversion for climate change is changing the world order and sending it hurtling back decades to the Cold War era. The impact will be felt most by us in the developing world. 

Mahmudur Rahman is a writer, columnist, broadcaster, and communications specialist.