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June 5, 2020

After China violated Hong Kong’s legislative autonomy by imposing a new security law on the territory, the United States and its traditional allies did something remarkable — they agreed. But this display of solidarity was fleeting.

The US, UK, EU, Japan, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand all issued critical statements. However, President Donald Trump then quickly announced the United States would protest China’s action by ending America’s special trade relationship with Hong Kong, whereas the EU rejected punitive economic measures.

Trump further vowed the US would ‘terminate’ its relationship with the World Health Organization (WHO) on the grounds that the agency has become a Chinese instrument. Although other democratic nations have expressed misgivings at the WHO’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic, many had implored Trump not to hobble the world’s main health agency in the midst of a global emergency.

Although this disunity may be unsurprising, it is sadly self-defeating. De...

June 20, 2019

Published by Chatham House, June 18, 2019

Many middle powers have been warning of the dangers inherent in the decline of the liberal international order. The time has come for these countries to translate their warnings into concerted action.

July 4, 2018

President Donald Trump insists that other advanced industrialized countries – including Canada, France, Germany and the United Kingdom – take advantage of America's trade openness by charging substantially higher import duties than the United States does.

As Trump said last month: "all of these countries, including the European Union, they charge five times the tariff. We don't charge tariffs, essentially. They charge five times what we charge for tariffs. And I believe in the word reciprocal. You're going to charge five times? We're going to charge five times."

But here's the truth: the United States and other advanced industrialized economies all have very low average tariff rates, as the chart below shows. Scroll way down the list. They are all among the lowest-tariff countries in the world.

France, Germany and the UK – all members of the European Union, for now at least – charge an average tariff of 1.96% on imports.

The US average tariff is a bit lower: 1.67%.


June 17, 2018

The Real Story, BBC World Service

Broadcast description:

What is Donald Trump thinking? In one week he calls Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau ‘dishonest and weak’ and then proceeds to boast of his ‘terrific relationship’ with the dictator Kim Jong-Un. In just a few days, he riles America’s closest allies at the G7 summit and then signs a nuclear deal with the country considered one of the biggest threats to international security. The president’s critics say he is tearing up the rule book without considering the consequences. His supporters say a new approach to international diplomacy is long overdue. So which is it? Has President Trump decided to abandon the military and political alliances that structured the post-World War II liberal order – or is he simply reminding old allies not to take the United States for granted? Is ‘the West’ dead – or is the alliance mutating into one where the US has more space to put itself ‘first’. On the Re...

March 31, 2017

Peter Navarro, director of the Trump Administration's National Trade Council, told Bloomberg on March 31: "The United States is the freest trader in the world. Let's be clear about that. On balance, we have the lowest tariffs. We have the lowest non-tariff barriers."

Not quite. The conservative Heritage Foundation rates countries each year on various measures of economic openness. In a list of the 25 countries most open to trade (those with the lowest tariffs and non-tariff barriers) the United States ranks 18th, tied Peru.

Canada is 10th.

Source: Heritage Foundation, 2017 Index of Economic Freedom,

Methodological notes from Heritage

Trade freedom is a composite measure of the extent of tariff and nontariff barriers that affect imports and exports of goods and services. The trade freedom score is based on two inputs: The trade-weighted average tariff rate and non-tariff barriers (NTBs).

Different imports entering a country can (and often do) f...

November 18, 2016

Globe and Mail

The election of Donald Trump as president of the United States has ushered in a period of unsettling uncertainty in international affairs. He has called the foundations of American foreign policy into question, but his precise intentions remain mysterious.

If Mr. Trump allows this uncertainty to continue — or worse, if he turns his back on U.S. allies and trading partners, as he has threatened to do — he risks harming America’s closest friends, empowering its rivals, and making the world even more dangerous.

Uncertainty during presidential transitions is nothing new. But this transition is different. During the campaign, Mr. Trump disavowed decades-old tenets of U.S. foreign policy. He cast doubt on America’s commitment to its allies, describing the North Atlantic Treaty Organization as “obsolete” and suggesting that Japan and South Korea might want to acquire their own nuclear weapons.

He called for warmer relations with Russia at a moment when Moscow is working to...

June 1, 2003

International Studies Quarterly 47:2 (June 2003), pp. 153-82

Abstract: The anticipated growth of new communications technologies, including the Internet and other digital networks, will make it increasingly difficult for states to tax global commerce effectively. Greater harmonization and coordination of national tax policies will likely be required in the coming years in order to address this problem. Given that the history of the state is inseparable from the history of taxation, this ‘‘globalization of taxation’’ could have far-reaching political implications. The modern state itself emerged out of a fiscal crisis of medieval European feudalism, which by the 14th and 15th centuries was increasingly incapable of raising sufficient revenues to support the mounting expenses of warfare. If new developments in the technology of commerce are now undermining the efficiency of the state as an autonomous taxing entity, fiscal pressures may produce a similar shift in de facto political autho...

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Roland Paris
Graduate School of Public and International Affairs

University of Ottawa

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