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American Trash Talk – After Trade War, Now U.S. Hopes Can Still Dump “Garbage” In China



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Mar 25 2018
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After President Trump proudly signed an executive memorandum to slap tariffs on up to US$60 billion in Chinese imports on Thursday, the Dow Jones dropped 724 points. The U.S. DJIA plunged another 425 points on Friday after China strikes back with its own counter-tariff measures. It appeared the markets were sending a message to Trump.

 

That message is this – be careful what you wish for. John Rutledge, a former advisor to President George W. Bush, agreed with FinanceTwitter that China’s US$3 billion tariffs was just the beginning. Mr. Rutledge expects the Chinese to “come back hard” on Trump. Even Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross expects some “ultimate retaliation” from China in the coming days.

 

Donald Trump has been whining and bitching about China’s “unfair” trading practices, not to mention intellectual property theft. Get real – if U.S. President Donald Trump and China President Xi Jinping were to switch roles, Mr. Trump would most likely boast about how smart he is – that as the leader of the Chinese Communist Party, he cleverly outsmarts the Americans.

Donald Trump - Have High IQ

After all, Trump was the one who said that not paying any taxes “make me smart.” And this is the same person who claimed to have a very high IQ, and he’s told everyone about it a lot. Fine, let’s assume he is the smartest man on planet Earth. What does Trump expect China, a communist nation, to do? Does Trump really expect China to play nice and fair in the business world?

 

It wasn’t the Chinese who forced greedy American capitalists to set up factories by the thousands in China. U.S. multinationals have the options not to do business there. They can freely bring their investments elsewhere such as India or African countries. But they didn’t because they knew China would become a huge marketplace, and they couldn’t resist the temptation of making money out of it.

 

In actuality, Trump’s tariffs have nothing to do with China being unfair. Instead, it has everything to do with the rising of China powerhouse – both economically and militarily – so strong and influential that the Middle Kingdom could overtake United States as the world’s new leader. So, the U.S. has no choice but to cripple China to ensure Americans’ continuous supremacy.

US vs China - Flags

If the U.S. genuinely practices what it calls fair and free trade, Trump should not unilaterally impose tariffs or other trade restrictions using its own Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974. The U.S. should make its complaints at the WTO (World Trade Organization), the world body which deals with the global rules of trade between nations.

 

But the U.S. refuses to play by the rules whenever the odds are stacked against it. They conveniently disregard World Trade Organization rules and use its domestic law to initiate a trade investigation against China. So, whenever it suits them, the U.S. would flash international rules but if it doesn’t, they would flash domestic rules?

 

Amusingly, on Friday, just a day after President Donald Trump flashed his domestic rules to penalize China with tariffs on up to US$60 billion in imports, the Yankees asked the Chinese not to proceed with its ban on the import of “foreign garbage.” This time, however, the U.S. saw it fit to complain to the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods about China’s refusal to import trash from America.

China Dumping Ground of Garbage - A Man Collecting Trash

What is the story about “foreign garbage”? The Western countries were attracted to China not only due to its huge market opportunity but also because the Middle Kingdom provided a perfect solution to their problem – dumping ground for trash. Since 1980s, China started to import solid waste, when its rapidly growing economy fuelled gigantic demand for cheap raw materials.

 

While the waste produces health and environmental problems, these issues have long been overshadowed by the economic interests of both China and the exporting nations, which are mostly in the West. Sure, recycling raw materials has helped Chinese firms save money, but it has also helped Western countries earn money and solve their garbage problem. But not anymore!!

 

After Beijing notified the World Trade Organization last July, China started enforcing its new “National Sword” policy effective January 1, 2018 – banning 24 types of solid waste, including various plastics and unsorted mixed papers. Essentially, the Asian powerhouse is telling the world that it would no longer act as the world’s trash dump – but the U.S. isn’t happy.

America Top Producer of Garbage Rubbish Trash

The U.S. is the top producer of waste, according to the World Bank, and Americans have been doing a pretty good job at throwing stuff away. The country exported US$16.5 billion in scrap in 2016, more than any other country. Paper and plastic constituted about US$3.9 billion of that. Every day, nearly 4,000 shipping containers full of recyclables would leave U.S. ports bound for China.

 

Over two-thirds of America’s wastepaper exports ended up in China in 2016. Paper and plastic scrap exports to mainland China topped US$2.2 billion – more than U.S.’ exports to China of wheat, rice, corn, meat, dairy and vegetables combined. In the same year, U.S. shipped more than 16 million metric tons of scrap commodities to China worth more than US$5.6 billion.

 

Likewise, the European Union exports half of it’s collected and sorted plastics, 87% of which goes to China. Ireland alone exported 95% of its plastic waste to China in 2016. Based on International Solid Waste Association, 56% of global waste plastic is exported to China. Three months into the ban, the U.S. doesn’t like the idea of China going clean.

China Dumping Ground of Garbage - Lorry Transporting Garbage

Although the U.S. claimed to recognise China’s environmental concerns, a U.S. representative complained at the WTO’s Council for Trade in Goods on Friday – “China’s import restrictions on recycled commodities have caused a fundamental disruption in global supply chains for scrap materials, directing them away from productive reuse and towards disposal.”

 

Heck, the U.S. even lectured China about breaching its WTO obligations, saying – “We request that China immediately halt implementation and revise these measures in a manner consistent with existing international standards for trade-in scrap materials, which provide a global framework for transparent and environmentally sound trade-in recycled commodities.”

 

Obviously, the U.S. is now caught with the crisis of backlogs of recyclable waste. Brandon Wright, a spokesman for the U.S. National Waste and Recycling Association, said that some facilities were storing inventory outside or in parking lots. One could see bales of paper are stacking up in a parking lot along a 45-minute drive west of Boston in the city of Westborough, Massachusetts.

China Customs - Checking Foreign Garbage

Can’t the Yankees look at emerging markets elsewhere such as India, Pakistan or Southeast Asia to solve their problems? They can but it would be more expensive than shipping waste to China. Sending “American garbage” to China is cheaper because they are placed on ships that would “otherwise be empty” when they return to the Middle Kingdom after delivering consumer goods.

 

There’s another problem. Even if third world countries are willing to become America new dumping site, they couldn’t fill China’s gigantic shoes since “processing capacity doesn’t develop overnight.” Perhaps trying to mock Trump administration, a Chinese spokesman lectured the U.S. representative at the WTO meeting about American trash issues.

 

The Chinese representative said it’s “only fair” that nations must individually shoulder the responsibility to dispose of their own waste in an environmentally-acceptable manner. With genius Donald Trump’s declaration of trade war with China, the Americans might need to live with what the Chinese call “yang laji (foreign garbage)”, at least for now.

Donald Trump Speech - Garbage Wall

 

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