Donald Trump is really, really good for world trade, just not for that with the United States.
Consider the following developments in the past two weeks:
June 14: Canada’s government asks parliament to ratify the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership, the revised version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership from which Trump’s America’s pulled out in 2017.
June 18: The European Union trade commissioner visited Australia to discuss a free trade agreement.
June 21: EU trade commissioner repeats the process in New Zealand.
June 22: South Korea says it plans for its first ever free-trade agreement with Russia.
It’s been a busy June.
Come July, there will be a free-trade agreement between Japan and the EU.
The busy-ness is the business of trade. Trump’s America is lurching around so drunkenly and threateningly, many US allies and trading partners are trying to find other buyers and sellers and more dependable markets.
As Wendy S. Cutler, formerly an acting United States trade representative, recently wrote, the buzzword that America’s friends and allies are using is “diversification”. But really that’s just “the polite way of saying that America’s friends and allies believe we have become an unreliable partner, and they are now looking elsewhere.”
As a result the Japanese are talking to the Chinese. So are the Mexicans. New trading partnerships are being contemplated.
This will be a matter of concern for all those who fear for America.
But, in historical terms, great powers (and great empires) last only as long as they demonstrate an aptitude and a desire for the responsibilities and rights that go with the elevated position.
Sometimes, great powers tire and yearn to metaphorically close their eyes and fall into a deep dreamless sleep.
Mr Trump may be America’s Ambien.