Donald Trump launched US$50 billion of new tariffs against technology imports from China. Beijing retaliated immediately with tariffs on US$50 billion worth of US beef and poultry imports. Simon Bridges announced he wanted a bi-partisan approach on climate change, but did not commit to a carbon neutral target and said he would not accept "extreme" policies that increased household costs unnecessarily or damaged the economy.
On the brink
America moved closer to an all-out trade war with China over the weekend, worrying some that trade restrictions and uncertainty could derail a global economy that had just started firing on all cylinders almost a decade after the Global Financial Crisis.
US President Donald Trump announced an immediate and extra 25 percent tariff on US$50 billion worth of imports from China on Friday night. The tariffs were focused on areas connected to China's Made in China 2025 plan for dominating high-tech industries such as robotics, IT, aerospace and car making.
China responded immediately, announcing tariffs on US$50 billion worth of beef, poultry, tobacco and cars from July 6. Editorials in Government owned newspapers in China described Trump's actions as 'rude, unreasonable, selfish and headstrong.' ( New York Times )
The New York Times reported shipments of goods were slowing at ports and airports around the world. Airport traffic was flat in the first three months of 2018 after two years of growth. However, some still see Trump's moves as sabre-rattling that will end benignly after America has rejigged its trade deals enough for Trump to claim victory with his voting base ahead of mid-term elections in November.
But the risks are growing that he will lose control of the situation under a welter of tit-for-tat trade sanctions that spiral into a series of other disputes with enemies and allies alike. The previous weekend's disastrous G7 summit where Trump's administration ended up accusing Canada's Justin Trudeau of stabbing him in the back is an indicator of that. America is imposing steep tariffs on imports of Canadian, Mexican and European steel imports. Mexico has already imposed a 20 percent tariff on American apple imports that has increased prices and driven down sales.
National has called for a bi-partisan approach on climate change, but has stopped short of endorsing the carbon neutral by 2050 end target and has talked down any measures that might hurt the economy or jobs.
Opposition Leader Simon Bridges announced in a speech at Fieldays on Friday that he had written to Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern offering to help establish an "independent, non-political Climate Change Commission which would support emissions reductions by both advising on carbon budgets and publishing progress reports on emissions."
There was no mention in the speech of agreeing to the Government's carbon neutral target by 2050 and Bridges repeated his opposition to the Government's decision not to issue new offshore oil and gas drilling licenses.
"National want to see sensible, practical solutions, not extreme policies that would damage the economy and unnecessarily drive up costs for Kiwi households," he said.