Tri desetletja nazaj so washingtonske institucije (IMF in Svetovna banka) v okviru iniciative ameriškega State departmenta inicirale t.i. Washingtonski konsenz, to je niz priporočil za optimalne ekonomske politike (od privatizacije, liberalizacije trgovine in investicij do vzdržnih fiskalnih politik). Ena izmed ključnih priporočenih politik je bila prosta trgovina, ki naj bi bi bila optimalna za hitrejši gospodarski razvoj. Tri desetletja kasneje so ZDA oblikovale “nov Washingtonski konsenz“, v katerem ni več prostora za popolnoma prosto trgovino in investicije, pač pa je odkrito protekcionističen in temelji na konceptu “nacionalne varnosti”. Torej ZDA so odstopile od koncepta, ki so ga oblikovale, ki so ga pridigale drugim in ki so ga zahtevale od vseh držav. Kot pravi Edward Luce v Financial Timesu: “včerajšnja ameriška ortodoksija se je sprevrgla v herezijo.
In namesto odprtosti se ZDA zadnje desetletje dejansko zapirajo, in to pospešeno. Uvedle so carine na uvoz, ne podaljšujejo izteklih sporazumov o znižanih carinah za države v razvoju (GSP), niso del regionalnih trgovinskih integracij (nekdanji Trans‐Pacific Partnership, ki se je po umiku ZDA preoblikoval v Comprehensive and Progressive Trans‐Pacific Partnership), sprejele so zelo protekcionistične zakone, ki močno subvencionirajo domačo proizvodnjo in spodbujajo povratek podjetij nazaj v ZDA (Chips Act, Inflation Reduction Act) itd. Problem tega ameriškega zapiranja je, da je prizadel vse države, najbolj pa države v razvoju. In te države se obračajo h glavnemu konkurentu ZDA – Kitajski, ki je oblikovala lastne regionalne in bilateralne trgovinske sporazume. Kitajska pospešeno nase navezuje azijske, afriške in latinskoameriške države. V zadnjem desetletju je postala največji trgovinski partner in največji investitor v večini teh držav (glejte slike na koncu članka). Kitajska je zasedla prostor, ki so ga ZDA prostovoljno izpraznile.
In kot je Larry Summers citiral afriškega politika: Od Kitajske dobimo letališče, od ZDA pa pridige”. Toda ZDA so se izkazale ne samo kot povsem neverodostojne v svojih pridigah, pač pa škodljive za razvoj tretjih držav. Kitajska se zanje kaže kot bolj koristna naveza.
Tukaj je dober povzetek ameriškega zapiranja:
If recent reports are to be believed, it’s tough out there for Team America right now, especially in its ongoing clash (ahem, competition) with China. Former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers kicked off the worrying a couple weeks ago when he cautioned that, based on his recent discussions with various foreign officials about U.S.-China economic “fragmentation,” many developing countries are choosing to “fragment” with Beijing:
Somebody from a developing country said to me, ‘what we get from China is an airport. What we get from the United States is a lecture,’…. We are on the right side of history—with our commitment to democracy, with our resistance to aggression in Russia… But it’s looking a bit lonely on the right side of history, as those who seem much less on the right side of history are increasingly banding together in a whole range of structures.
Others have voiced similar concerns about waning U.S. popularity abroad, pointing to various events and international meetings at which American diplomats feel sidelined and “powerless.”
For the record, conclusions about whether the United States is “popular” (or whatever) abroad—and how important such “popularity” is for U.S. interests—are subjective, fluid, and complex. It’s far more shades of gray than it is black and white or some binary “Team America vs. Team China” choice. Nevertheless, two things about this complicated situation remain undoubtedly true: First, there are some unwelcome signs that large and geographically (if not economically) important developing countries are, if not choosing China over the United States, at least hedging their bets and shrugging off core U.S. geopolitical priorities. And, second, the United States government is foolishly giving them plenty of reasons to do so.
Not So Team America
In just the last few weeks, in fact, there have been several reports of foreign leaders basically telling the U.S. to go pound sand—and usually embracing China in the process:
- During Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s three‐day visit to China, he not only signed more than a dozen bilateral accords (worth about $10 billion), but also vowed to work with Chinese President Xi Jinping to “balance world geopolitics” and suggested that the developing countries “come up with an alternative currency to the dollar for use in trade between them.” Then, he “struck a further note of defiance against Washington in another speech given alongside [his “good friend”] Xi, during which Lula noted he had visited the Chinese telecom company Huawei, which is subject to US sanctions.”
- A few days before Lula’s visit to Beijing, Malaysian Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim was there doing much the same thing (albeit more quietly): During his four‐day stint, “19 agreements were signed to boost investments in green technology, digital economy and modern agriculture.” The meetings also signaled “the importance of China to Kuala Lumpur’s foreign policy framework” and underscored China’s strong economic ties to Malaysia: “China has been Malaysia’s top trading partner for 14 years running and was also the biggest source of foreign direct investment in 2022 at US$12.5 billion (S$16.7 billion), nearly double that of the United States in the second place.”
- According to James Crabtree, executive director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies Asia, Anwar’s visit is par for the recent course for developing countries in China’s orbit: “Asian nations from Bangladesh and Indonesia to Malaysia and Thailand view China as central to their economic future. Rather than decoupling, they seek more trade with Beijing.” Vietnam, he notes, is also on this list: “Its bilateral trade with China has rocketed in recent years, with similar patterns discernible in the rest of what is sometimes called ‘factory Asia.’”
- Finally, there’s the Middle East, where OPEC oil producers earlier this month “announced further oil output cuts of around 1.16 million barrels per day, in a surprise move that analysts said would increase prices and that the United States called inadvisable”; where Saudi Arabia and China have explored invoicing oil sales in yuan (in part to avoid the threat of U.S. sanctions); and where Saudi Arabia last month announced a surprise “détente” with Iran (which is still subject to U.S. sanctions) that was hosted by Beijing and “prompted questions about U.S. leadership” in the region.
Vir: Scott Lincicome