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Mike Hosking: At least Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have backbone

Author
Mike Hosking,
Section
Opinion,
Publish Date
Monday, 26 August 2019, 11:50AM
Donald Trump and Boris Johnson have their supporters regardless what the world makes of them. (Photo / AP)

Are they senseless disputes? Donald Tusk, European Council president, is frustrated with Donald Trump over the US-China trade war.

He is right in the sense it's hurting a lot of people, it's dragging the global economy down, it's also going to lead nowhere good, tariffs don't work, they aren't working, and that's before you get to the politics of it all.

Trump is running out of time for China to blink. For that is all this is: An appendage-swinging exercise for global domination. But as we have said many times before, Trump has an election next year, the Chinese don't.

Trump simply cannot afford to keep up the rubbish about tariffs being good and all the money that is flooding into America.

Farmers are realists, and they know where a dollar comes from. They know that Trump is handing out more than he's taking in.

But the clue to all this came last week when - just for a moment - whether it was a slip or anger, he appeared to explain what's really driving all this.

It's the fight they had to have, and should have had, years ago. The trade relationship is one-sided and heavily in China's favour. It has been forever.

Now I'd argue that's because the Chinese, by and large, make stuff the world wants and America doesn't. America has always been more interested in domestic production. Look at its cars. They are Amercian and next to none of them make it internationally because everyone else from the Japanese to the Germans to the Italians to the British make better versions.

But Trump doesn't see it like that. He sees a big country out-gunning him on business and he's looking to level the playing field.

There is an appeal in that, which is why he gets on with Boris, who's told the EU overnight the £30 billion ($58 billion) is not coming its way if there is no deal. It was the price of the divorce settlement.

And in that figure is the madness of Brexit. Britain is a net contributor to the EU, which is at least partially why it voted to leave. Britain pumps billions every year into Europe because Europe is a 28-strong club of basket cases who don't know how to run their economies, so the successful ones pay the bills. It's their version of the US-China trade imbalance.

Both approaches are to be admired. Tusk can whine all he wants but he's part of the problem: paper-shufflers who fear conflict, want everyone to get along no matter how one-sided the debate deal or expectation is.

And, at last, we have a couple of significant global players who are prepared to stand up for their countries and their economies. You don't have to love everything they are about, but I can tell you for nothing there is no shortage of voters in their respective home bases who will support a bit of backbone.

 

ON AIR: Heather du Plessis-Allan Drive

4PM - 7PM