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Looking Back at Donald Trump’s Presidency: A Reading List

As Donald Trump’s presidency comes to a close, a reexamination of his domestic and foreign policy reveals a fractured legacy—of populism, protectionism and unilateralism.

Once More on the ‘Humbug of Finance’

While an expansionary monetary policy acts by respecting private rationality, an expansionary fiscal policy, involving larger government expenditure financed by a fiscal deficit or taxes on capitalists, implicitly highlights the limitations of private rationality. Finance capital not surprisingly opposes the latter, even though the proffered arguments for “fiscal responsibility” have no theoretical validity. Given the current world economic crisis, a spate of beggar-my-neighbour policies are on the horizon.

WTO and Rules of Origin

The WTO panel report on the Indo-US dispute over rules of origin in textile and apparel products imports shows how the Agreement on Rules of Origin could be used, and how inequitable its resolution could be. It also shows that protectionism could take new forms, and confirms some of India's worst fears if origin could be conferred other than on the basis of the restrictive criteria of substantial harmonisation of the rules of origin.

Steel : Protectionism Won't Work

The agreement on capacity cuts in steel reached at the Paris meeting of producing countries this month is under threat of being undermined by a US proposal to impose tariffs on imports. The International Trade Commission, a US government agency, has recommended duties of up to 40 per cent on most import items, in a bid to protect the high-cost, loss-making US steel industry. Steel exports to the US, including from India, will virtually dry up if president Bush endorses the tariffs in February 2002. The European Union has already declared that the Paris deal would not be implemented if the US went ahead with its import curbs. The EU is also preparing for action at the WTO if the US does not back off. With the hardening of positions, some tough bargaining must precede any concerted international effort to shore up the global steel industry, which is facing its worst crisis in decades, with a production glut and poor demand pushing down prices to 20-year lows.

Strange Alliances

Shankar Gopal, in ‘American AntiGlobalisation Movement’ (EPW, August 25-31), forcefully argues that American groups protesting in Seattle in 1999 often ignored the concerns of developing nations about the inclusion of a labour rights ‘social clause’ in trade agreements. Too often, concerns of economic protectionism expressed by developing nations’ governments and trade unions were dismissed as elite driven and overly nationalistic. No doubt this is true. At the same time, however, I believe that activists and scholars in the developing world who are engaged with these issues also need to question their own assumptions about the motivations behind western support for a social clause. By sticking firmly to conventional wisdom (on both sides), unintended and strange political alliances are formed that cannot be helpful for workers. Instead, a new international dialogue needs to take place about how trade might be used to improve the lives of workers everywhere.

Anthropological Perspectives on Prostitution and AIDS in India

Increasing prevalence of HIV/AIDS across wider sections of the Indian society has focused attention on particularly vulnerable groups, such as sex workers. Thus far, attempts to rehabilitate and to arouse social awareness have been sporadic and isolated. This paper argues for the need to evoke a wider awareness by looking to the historical circumstances surrounding prostitution and argues for a multi-pronged effort to combat HIV/AIDS.

Steel : Time to Look Inward

Indian steel has been virtually shut out of the US following the notification by the latter of final anti-dumping duties on imports from India, along with eight other countries. The levies, to apply for five years on US imports of hot-rolled coils, range from 29.35 per cent on Essar Steel to 43.04 per cent on Ispat. Tata Steel, Steel Authority of India and Jindal Vijayanagar Steel have been slapped with a weighted average duty of 33.17 per cent. The levies also include countervailing duties, ostensibly to counter the subsidies received by Indian steel exporters from the government. Hot-rolled steel exports to the US, India’s largest export market, earned Rs 900 crore in 2000. The Indian industry has called the US commerce department’s move protectionist. Huge imports from more efficient producing countries in recent years have pushed several US steel mills into bankruptcy and layoffs. The patriotic fervour to protect the US industry appears to have gained ground after the September 11 terrorist attacks. The US administration appears to have moved rather quickly to defend the interests of its high-cost steel producers.
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