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India Reminds: What DC Has Long Pretended Is ‘Free Trade’ – Is Not Free Trade

Westlake Legal Group world-fair-trade-day-logo India Reminds: What DC Has Long Pretended Is ‘Free Trade’ – Is Not Free Trade trade import limits trade Taxes Tariffs sugar subsidies Politics Policy News Judicial India Front Page Stories Front Page Free trade fair trade Business & Economy Brazil

Washington, D.C.’s very swampy denizens have spent the last half-century-plus perpetrating a panoply of frauds against We the People.

Perhaps the most Gaslight-y of them all – has been DCs fake free trade.

We the People have watched DCs fake free trade – dispatch millions of our jobs and trillions of our dollars to everywhere else on the planet.  And our nation – has been hollowed out and caved in.

And when We the People complained about the self-destruction – we were yelled at as nationalist Luddites who are anti-commerce.

Yes.  Our opposition to the guys with guns and masks taking our wallets and watches – is “anti-commerce.”

What they do not understand is – commerce occurs between peoples.  Trade Policy – occurs between governments.  And every government – seeks to advantage its people over all others.

Well, except our government, of course.  Because “Free Markets!!!” – or something.

So our half-century-plus of allowing every country on the planet to favor their peoples over ours – has gutted our people and our nation.

The planet tariffs and limits the import of our stuff – which hurts our stuff.  And the planet subsidizes their stuff – thereby giving their stuff an anti-market advantage over our stuff.

We do very little of any of this.  We do absolutely nothing about their doing it.

Fifty-plus years later – we are in the heinous mess we’re in.

In writing about trade with utterly corrupt Communist China, Nicholas Phillips wisely notes:

“(Fake) free trade with China means allowing its distortions into our market.

“Refusing to allow our government to ‘pick winners’ by rejecting industrial-policy support to key sectors means that Beijing will pick winners for us.”

If we don’t prioritize things for ourselves – the planet will prioritize things for themselves.  And much more often than not – it will be to our great disadvantage.

“Key sectors” you say?  I would say food growth and production is a key sector.

Before you can put on your cheap Bangladeshi PJs and watch your cheap Chinese TV – you gotta eat.

And fake free trade has been devastating our farmers, ranchers and food producers.

By not choosing to defend our producers – we have subjected them to the rest of the planet defending theirs.

To wit:

Sugar: Concern Increases Over Subsidies in India:

“Édgar Herrera, executive director of the (Costa Rica) Industrial Agricultural League of Sugarcane (Laica), explained…:

“‘These (sugar) subsidies are greater than those allowed by the World Trade Organization, in the order of $10 billion annually.  At the same time, it causes an artificial increase in sugar production, which surpasses India’s internal consumption.’…

“‘There is an oversupply, which has caused sugar prices to collapse below production costs. And this causes severe damage to countries that do not have these subsidies, as in the case of Costa Rica.’”

Again: $10 billion per year.  JUST in sugar subsidies.  JUST from India.

Yet again, a country is cheating to help its people – and screwing everyone else.  Not just US.  Not just Costa Rica.  Everyone else.

India’s New Sugar Export Subsidy a Bitter Pill for Australia:

“India has announced a fresh round of subsidies to prop up its ailing sugar industry and Australian growers and millers argue the export incentives are an illegal market distortion….

“Previous Indian subsidies have flooded the global market with Indian sugar, and the latest package will extend the glut….

“Brazil and Guatemala joined Australia in an appeal to the the World Trade Organisation (WTO), claiming India’s export subsidies are an illegal market distortion and formal dispute resolution has begun….

“‘We are stunned by this development, just days after the WTO formally established a Dispute Panel to investigate the legality of India’s sugar subsidies,’ said Australian Sugar Milling Council chief executive David Pietsch.

“’India’s government has approved a massive market distortion. The amount of sugar involved dwarfs Australia’s total annual raw sugar exports….’”

So we wait for the WTO to get its act together and do something about this.  If they ever do.

In the meantime, India strip mines the global sugar market – and every non-Indian in it.

Oh: And a huge reason why India’s sugar production was struggling so mightily?  Which led to their sweetening their pot with $10 billion a year in subsidies?

Brazil has LONG been subsidizing their sugar production – to the tune of $4 billion per year.  Which artificially got them – to controlling almost half of the 100+ country global sugar market.

Again: Commerce is between peoples.  Trade Policy – is between governments.

We’re now in a subsidy arms race.  With governments heading in the wrong direction – ratcheting upward, rather than down.

Which results in:

Brazil Ethanol Boom Pushes Sugar Outlook to 14-Year Low

Our farmers and producers – getting omni-directional screwed.  Yet again.

Brazil Says India’s Subsidy Will Extend Cycle of Low Sugar Prices

If our farmers and food producers can’t get a decent price for their stuff – they’ll stop growing and producing their stuff.

And then where will we be?

In the name of fake free trade – DC has gutted our industrial manufacturing.

Which is inconceivably terrible.

In the name of fake free trade – DC is on the verge of gutting our food manufacturing.

Which is cataclysmic.

Let’s stop pretending fake free trade is free trade – shall we?

The post India Reminds: What DC Has Long Pretended Is ‘Free Trade’ – Is Not Free Trade appeared first on RedState.

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China to US: Let’s talk

Westlake Legal Group xi-trump China to US: Let’s talk Xi Jinping trade The Blog supply chains donald trump China

Did Beijing blink? Just days after massive new tariffs went into effect on both sides of the US-China bilateral trade relationship, China announced it would send a team of negotiators to Washington next month. “Serious” mid-level talks would begin almost immediately in an effort to wind down the trade war, China also announced:

China said Thursday its trade representatives will fly to Washington in early October to resume negotiations with the United States, raising the possibility that both sides might arrest a recent deterioration in the bilateral relationship that has cast a shadow over the world economy.

China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Liu He, agreed to the October visit in a phone call with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and U.S. Trade Representative Robert E. Lighthizer, China’s Commerce Ministry said in a statement. It added that “serious” mid-level discussions will begin in mid-September to prepare for the October visit.

The announcement marks the first sign that talks are getting back on track after both governments raised tariffs last month and engaged in a rhetorical back-and-forth that underscored the adversarial mood settling over the two capitals on issues extending well beyond trade. At one point, President Trump ordered American companies to leave China.

Last week, Trump claimed that China was asking about new talks, which media outlets refused to credit. This time, China has made their application clear through their own state-controlled media outlets. In the South China Morning Post, considered an official regime voice, offered a cautiously optimistic take on their request after a few weeks of harsh words (reprinted through Politico):

China said it would strive to make substantial progress to resolve the trade war with the United States when the countries’ negotiators hold face-to-face talks in early October.

The Ministry of Commerce made the pledge after Chinese Vice Premier Liu He and the U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin shared a phone conversation on Thursday, their first since Aug. 13.

The ministry said both sides had agreed to make concrete efforts to create positive conditions for continued dialogue. The two sides will meet in Washington in early October.

“On the basis of full preparation by the working groups of both sides, efforts striving for substantive progress will be made in the 13th round of China-U.S. high-level economic and trade consultations in early October,” ministry spokesperson Gao Feng told reporters.

That’s more friendly than SCMP sounded last month. At that time, they passed along Beijing’s demand for Trump to “meet them halfway” on trade issues rather than fight for his own terms. Trump made it clear that he didn’t plan on abandoning his positions, saying that cutting a traditional deal on China’s terms wasn’t worth the effort.

Now, rather than meeting Trump halfway, China is literally — and perhaps symbolically — coming all the way to the US to settle the trade dispute. Trump may have put his finger on the reason for the sudden shift on Tuesday:

The supply-chain issue is a big deal to Xi. The longer the tariffs remain in place, the stronger the incentives become for US companies to move their supply chains to cheaper countries, if not back to the US. Once those shift, it will take a long time for companies to move them back into China, and that assumes that the economics of moving them back still exist at all. Xi is playing with decades of economic growth, while Trump is mostly risking short-term pain — sharp pain, perhaps, but short-term. The massive trade imbalance between the US and China makes it clear who needs whom more.

The news that China’s back in negotiations gave Wall Street a big boost:

Stocks surged on Thursday after the U.S. and China agreed to meet next month in Washington to discuss trade.

The Dow Jones Industrial Average jumped 400 points, or 1.5%. The S&P 500 climbed 1.1%, led by a 1.9% gain in the financials sector, and traded around 2% from its record high. The Nasdaq Composite advanced 1.3%. …

“Even though expectations for a robust trade deal are low, with global growth continuing to deteriorate as trade tensions mount, investors are relieved just to see talks are back on,” said Alec Young, managing director of global markets research at FTSE Russell, in a note. “There’s so much at stake that even incremental steps in the right direction are welcomed.”

The US and China had at one time been close to a deal, only to have China backtrack on its concessions in an attempt to test Trump. Several hundred billion dollars in tariffs later, China got the answer to its challenge. Perhaps this time they’ll take Trump more seriously, especially since the clock is running out faster on China’s supply-chain interests than they are on Trump’s political interests. For now, anyway.

The post China to US: Let’s talk appeared first on Hot Air.

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Perpetually Ungrateful Kuwait – Continues to Screw Our Company and Its Executive

Westlake Legal Group Kuwait Perpetually Ungrateful Kuwait – Continues to Screw Our Company and Its Executive trade Taxes tax cuts republicans repatriation Politics Policy Patriotism News National Security national interest military Middle East law Kuwait International Affairs Hillary Clinton Government Front Page Stories Front Page Foreign Policy Energy Economy Dubai donald trump Department of Defense Cronyism crony socialism crony capitalism crony corruption Clinton Foundation Campaigns Business & Economy Amerca First

The Only Reason This Kuwaiti Flag
Isn’t an Iraqi Flag – Is US

 

Most of the world is neither a friendly nor appreciative place.

No matter what we in the United States do to help the rest of the planet – no matter how much for how many countries – we only continue to be hated and reviled.

A lot of it is not our fault.  Because human nature.

Life is high school on steroids.

Most people in high school really didn’t like the varsity quarterback.  He was athletic.  And popular.  And dated multiple cheerleaders.  Most of the rest of the student body resented him much more than even those who liked him – liked him.

The United States – is the world’s high school quarterback.  Our economic and military prowess – is going to be resented.

The rest of it – is our fault.  Because human nature.

We do insist on sticking our enormous proboscis into all sorts of things and places – where neither it nor we belong.

We have a particular affection for armed invasions – for all the (publicly asserted) right reasons, of course.

We are now almost two decades into Afghanistan.  Which started righteously – we were attacked on 9/11/2001 by Islamist freaks based out of there.

But what should have been at most a six-month endeavor – has dragged on and on and….  With no end in sight.

The things we were told prevented us from leaving in Year Three and Year Eight, and Year Twelve, and… – are exactly the same things we are told prevent us from leaving now.  With no end in sight.

A sad, horrible, horrendous waste of blood, time and treasure – by any rational measure.

One of the many follies this Afghani folly’s proponents have incessantly put forward – since even before we invaded – is that our efforts would “win the hearts and minds of the Afghans.”

Ummm…they still have not.

Green on Blue Attacks:

“‘Green on blue attacks’ is the name given to a growing series of incidents where seemingly rogue Afghan security forces turn their guns on their NATO counterparts.”

Protestors Burn U.S. Flag in Pakistan and Afghanistan

In fact, we never will “win the hearts and minds.”  In Afghanistan – or anywhere else on Earth.  Most especially under arms.

As French politician Maximillian Robespierre knew:

“The most extravagant idea that can be born in the head of a political thinker is to believe that it suffices for people to enter, weapons in hand, among a foreign people and expect to have its laws and constitution embraced. No one loves armed missionaries; the first lesson of nature and prudence is to repulse them as enemies.”

Even when we do do a country a real solid – in exactly the right way – it doesn’t help or matter.

In August 1990, Iraq invaded Kuwait.  The United States led a 35-nation coalition that rapidly expelled Iraq.  After which we all got the heck out – and returned Kuwait to the Kuwaitis.

So we’re Kuwait’s eternal heroes, right?  They love US forever, yes?

Not so much:

“Kuwait votes against the United States 67% of the time (at the United Nations).”

Which brings us to today.

Much of Kuwait’s economy – is business centered on and around raising oil from beneath their feet and selling it.  A lot of help in so doing – comes from US.

One such US company – is KGL Investment Company:

“A Kuwaiti investment fund is calling on the Kuwaiti government to clarify its position over close to $500 million of the fund’s assets which are currently stuck in a Dubai bank, after growing concerned about possible efforts by some Kuwaiti individuals to seize the money.”

Kuwait and Dubai have frozen KGLs half a billion dollars – and then some:

“This is just one part of a wider dispute which includes allegations of corruption and embezzlement involving Russian businesswoman Marsha Lazareva, managing director of KGL Investment (KGLI), which sponsored The Port Fund.

“Lazareva was handed a 10-year jail sentence by a court in Kuwait in May. Her lawyers, Washington D.C.-based law firm Crowell & Moring, say she was subjected to a ‘show trial’ and have started proceedings to set up an international tribunal to examine the case.”

So Lazareva and her four-year-old son were held captive in Kuwait until she was released on bail.  On a ridiculous conviction and facing ridiculous fines.

A great and growing group of people are calling for action – including from the Donald Trump Administration:

Lawmakers From Both Parties Request Action from Treasury to Help Businesswoman Stuck in Kuwait

Both inside and outside government – and the US:

“Among those advocating for Lazareva’s release are Neil Bush, the son of the late President George H.W. Bush, Louis Freeh, former director of the FBI, Jim Nicholson, former United States Secretary of Veterans Affairs, former U.S. Representative Ed Royce, Sergey Lavrov, foreign minister of Russia, British Barrister Lord Carlile and members of UK Parliament….”

Why all this Kuwaiti nonsense?  Besides innate ungratefulness?  Kuwaiti cronyism:

“Behold Agility Logistics.  A Kuwaiti company – with close ties to the Kuwaiti government.

“Agility’s CEO, Essa Anwar Al-Saleh – is a former Chairman of Kuwait’s Gulf Bank.  So he exercised significant power over Kuwaiti commerce and finance.

“And it appears Al-Saleh still does.  Agility is a KGL competitor – with the home nation advantage.  The Kuwaiti government appears to be (holding the Lazarevas and) freezing KGLs coin – to benefit Agility.”

In fact

“Agility, a Kuwait-based multi-billion dollar logistics company spawned by the U.S. invasion of Iraq….”

…we made Agility’s very existence possible.

Yet again – no appreciation.  Only antagonism.

Oh: Agility has a long history of screwing its clients.  Including US:

“The Defense Logistics Agency suspended Agility, which specializes in logistics, in November 2009 after its parent company Public Warehousing Company K.S.C. was indicted in Atlanta on $6 billion in fraud charges stemming from food services contracts for troops in Iraq, Kuwait and the Middle East region.”

Defense Contractor Resolves Criminal, Civil and Administrative Liability Related to Food Contracts:

“Agility Pays $95 Million and Gives Up $249 Million in Claims to (the US) DOD.”

So you have an ungrateful Kuwait – screwing a US company and its executive and thumbing its nose at US.

So as to benefit its crony, corrupt in-house company – that has already, repeatedly screwed US.

This cacophony of nonsense has dragged on, and on, and….

It is high time we bring it to an end.

Ingrate Kuwait has already held the advantage for far too long.

Please note: This piece has been updated.  We wrote Mrs. Lazareva and her son are being held captive in Kuwait.  They were – until she was finally released on bail.  Please forgive the error.

The post Perpetually Ungrateful Kuwait – Continues to Screw Our Company and Its Executive appeared first on RedState.

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David Gauke: Why I believe that Parliament must stop a No Deal Brexit this week

David Gauke is a former Lord Chancellor and Justice Secretary, and is MP for South West Hertfordshire.

Following Nicky Morgan’s return to the Cabinet, the Editor of this website (and my esteemed former colleague in George Osborne’s Shadow Treasury team) asked if I would like to be a regular columnist. My role, as I understood it, would be to demonstrate that all strands of Conservative Party thinking was represented on this site and, in doing so, I should therefore stir it up a bit. I gladly accepted.

It hasn’t passed my notice that my views are not entirely in harmony with the majority of ConservativeHome readers when it comes to Brexit. And, given that this article is being published at the beginning of one of the most contentious and important weeks in the Brexit saga – and I have found myself somewhat in the thick of it – this is not likely to be a gentle introduction.

Before turning to the events of the week ahead, I should say a little about the evolution of my thinking. Like most Conservatives of my generation, I came to political age in the era of Margaret Thatcher. I admired her determination to transform the British economy, her willingness to take on vested interests, her belief in the free market, free trade, sound public finances, low inflation and the need for a pro-business tax and regulatory environment.

I also shared her instincts on Europe. I was opposed to our membership of the Exchange Rate Mechanism, feared that the Delors European Commission was trying to reverse her supply-side reforms and always believed that the UK should stay outside the single currency. Throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, I feared that, in the end, we would have a choice as to whether to become part of a United States of Europe or leave the EU altogether. If it came down to that choice, I would be a Leaver.

When I entered Parliament in 2005, I joined a small group of Eurosceptics who chipped in a contribution from their Parliamentary Staffing Allowances to pay for a researcher to ensure we were ever vigilant against the advance in Euro-federalism. I even had a spell as Treasurer of this organisation, called – accurately enough – the European Research Group.

It would be fair to say that the ERG and I drifted in different directions over the years. I came to the view that the UK could be part of the EU without being destined to be part of an EU superstate.

I also came to accept that it is only possible to bring down trade barriers on the basis of co-operation with other countries. There is a trade-off between regulatory autonomy and the openness of markets and I am a free trader.
By the time we got to the 2016 referendum, I was firmly in the Remain side. Not a starry-eyed, Ode to Joy-singing Europhile, still concerned about EU overreach but, nonetheless, a believer that, on balance, our interests were best served by continued EU membership.

I was on the losing side. Having provided a referendum, we had a duty to implement it. Failure to do so would ensure our politics would be scarred by the politics of betrayal.

The only responsible way to do so was with a deal, ensuring that we entered into a deep and special partnership and that we would have a smooth and orderly departure from the EU. But the problem with this is that leaving the EU was always going to be complex. It was never possible to maintain exactly the same benefits of EU membership whilst walking away from the institutions and the rules. Leaving in the abstract was one thing; the specifics of leaving – where detailed trade-offs have to be made – is another.

The Leave campaign made big promises in terms of our independence from EU institutions. It also reassured the public as to the minimal impact on businesses and sectors trading with the EU. The problem is that it is impossible to deliver on both sets of promises at the same time.

Theresa May tried and, in my view, got a good deal – a compromise that struck a pragmatic balance. But, as measured by the absolutist hopes of some Brexiteers, it fell short of delivering the dreamed for ‘independence’. Any deal will. But the cost of failing to reach a deal – in terms of our prosperity, security and the integrity of the UK – is far too high.

Leaving with a deal remains much the best outcome. But, given that Parliament has three times rejected a deal, this is not going to be easy. The Prime Minister clearly wants a deal but he has set out one big red line – the replacement of the Northern Irish backstop.

Will the EU change their position? The purpose of the backstop is to ensure that there is no hard border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. This is an important and legitimate objective, and it is unrealistic to think they will abandon the backstop unless there is an alternative that works.

The Prime Minister has accepted that it is for the UK to propose a workable replacement to the backstop. To succeed, it must have the confidence of the people and businesses on both sides of the Irish border. If we engage positively in that endeavour, the EU has always said they would work constructively with us. But if we fail to come up with credible plans, threats of a no deal departure (which will obviously impact the UK more than the EU) will not force the EU to abandon its long-held position.

Assuming a deal is reached (and that is a very big assumption), the deal then needs to get through Parliament. It may well face opposition from a significant number of Conservative MPs who want wider changes to the Withdrawal Agreement. The more my colleagues say they want wider changes, the more remote it appears any kind of deal could be delivered.

Even with the numbers, there is the question of time. The European Council is on 17 October and the Queens Speech debates will conclude on 22 October. Is anyone seriously suggesting that a Withdrawal Agreement Bill can be concluded in nine days? All stages in both the Commons and the Lords in just over a week? Those of us who served in the previous Cabinet will recall that those responsible for managing House business would advise us that the Withdrawal Agreement Bill would take two to three months to complete.

The conclusion is clear. If the Prime Minister is sincere that we leave on 31 October ‘do or die’ (and I believe he is sincere) the overwhelming likelihood is that, unless Parliament intervenes this week, we will leave without a deal. Some may welcome that. But for those of us who believe that this would be a tragic mistake, Parliament will have to step in.

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Officials to CNN: Trump falsely claimed that China called to ask for more trade talks in order to boost markets

Westlake Legal Group dt-8 Officials to CNN: Trump falsely claimed that China called to ask for more trade talks in order to boost markets Trump trade The Blog talks request CNN China call aides

Via the Week, the word “lie” isn’t used in the report but they’re accusing him of deliberately misstating what happened with China in order to goose the markets. He knows people are panicked about the trade war escalating, he’s worried that a market slide will crush his chances next year, so he’s exaggerating an olive branch from China in hopes of discouraging a selloff.

But there’s always another possibility, that POTUS just doesn’t know what’s going on in his own administration. Or at least doesn’t know it well enough to state it accurately.

Here’s what he said at the G-7 on Monday:

The Chinese responded to that by denying that any calls had been made. And so we were left with a test of credibility between the deceitful, murderous ChiCom regime and Donald Trump.

The Chinese were telling the truth, said two sources to CNN:

Still, Trump flashed signs of optimism this week that the trade war could be resolved, saying he’s received calls from Chinese officials saying they wanted to restart talks. Though Trump and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin insisted there had been “communication,” aides privately conceded the phone calls Trump described didn’t happen they way he said they did.

Instead, two officials said Trump was eager to project optimism that might boost markets, and conflated comments from China’s vice premier with direct communication from the Chinese.

The comments from the vice premier came in a public statement simply noting that China is committed to negotiations and hoping for a mutually beneficial end to the trade war. The idea of them calling the White House and asking for new talks, as Trump imagined it, made it sound like they were on the verge of capitulating after he hiked tariffs on them again late last week. They aren’t. All they did was put out a press release to try to keep markets calm.

The Dow finished a few hundred points higher on Monday after Trump fibbed about the calls from China. Anti-Trumpers on social media have seized on the CNN report this morning and are screaming about market manipulation, a crime under the Securities and Exchange Act that prohibits attempts to affect stock/currency prices by publicizing false or misleading information. Have we learned nothing from the obstruction arm of the Russiagate probe, though? The president is above the law under the DOJ’s interpretation of Article II of the Constitution. If anyone’s going to hold Trump accountable for encouraging suckers to buy shares this week in the false belief that the ChiComs were about to surrender, it’ll have to be Pelosi. And we know how that’ll go.

Here’s Kayleigh McEnany on CNN last night insisting that Trump never lies. Exit question: How much has the risk of POTUS lying outright to people’s faces about trade and the economy already been priced into the market? Normally this would be a moment to tut-tut him about squandering the credibility of the government, knowing that there may come a moment of crisis when it’s important for the public to believe what the president is telling them. But c’mon.

The post Officials to CNN: Trump falsely claimed that China called to ask for more trade talks in order to boost markets appeared first on Hot Air.

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Luke de Pulford: We must stand with Hong Kong, even if it harms trade with China

Luke de Pulford is Director of the Arise Foundation and serves on the Conservative Party Human Rights Commission.

As No Deal looms large a terrible question hangs in the air: can Brexit Britain afford to stand up to China? (I’m an unrepentant leaver, before you ask).

Resolving our approach to this question is becoming urgent. We have witnessed continuing demonstrations in Hong Kong, including the closure of the world’s 8th busiest airport and the sight of the Red Army amassing on its borders. Events like these are placing before the UK a stark choice: do we want to prioritise trade prosperity or our human rights obligations? With China threatening economic consequences if the UK continues to “interfere”, it’s starting to seem like it will have to be one or the other.

I’ve been genuinely surprised by how many party colleagues seem content to hold their noses in a search for post-Brexit prosperity. The trade-trumps-all strand of thinking is alive and well. But these Conservatives are in danger of forgetting their tradition. The Party has a proud history of confronting authoritarianism. On top of that, we have more skin in the game with Hong Kong than anyone else.

The peaceful transfer of Hong Kong’s sovereignty, ending 156 years of British Rule, was the result of careful diplomacy led by Conservative Governments. This was motivated by the same commitment to the rule of law, self-determination, democracy and freedom that led us to oppose fascism and the USSR.

When Margaret Thatcher came to power in 1979, she worked closely with Murray MacLehose, then the Governor General, to take forward discussions that had begun with Deng Xiaoping. Three years later she sent Edward Heath, as her Special Envoy, to continue the negotiations, paving the way for her own visit to China in 1982.

Deng, who was placing China on a trajectory of post-Mao and post-Cultural Revolution political and economic reform, told Thatcher that “I could walk in and take the whole lot this afternoon”. In her characteristic response, she agreed – and, with words that have great relevance today, she added “there is nothing I could do to stop you, but the eyes of the world would now know what China is like”.

By December 1984, in Beijing’s Great Hall of the People, political pragmatism and statesmanship culminated in the signing of the Sino-British Declaration. Four Conservative Foreign Secretaries, Geoffrey Howe, John Major, Douglas Hurd and Malcom Rifkind, and Hong Kong’s last Governor, Chris Patten, all played their part in creating the internationally guaranteed Treaty that created “two systems in one country.”

So when Boris says he is with the Hong Kong people “every step of the way”, he is invoking a tradition that goes to the heart of the Party. These were events of seismic importance, engineered and delivered by successive Conservative administrations. As I say: we have skin in the game. 

For years, Martin Lee, the “father of democracy in Hong Kong” – whom I recently had the privilege of meeting – has been warning of the gathering storm clouds. The reforms of Deng Xiaoping are a distant memory, superseded by a return to the authoritarianism of Mao under Xi Jinping. Lee’s warnings are coming to fruition. A harbinger of what Hong Kong people fear was plain to see in an editorial in the Communist Party’s Global Times which claimed that the brutal suppression of the pro-democracy movement in Tiananmen, 30 years ago, had “immunised” China against political instability.

Authoritarianism is not to be confused with political stability. And when an all-powerful Communist State imprisons political dissidents, academics and lawyers, sends a million Uighurs to detention centres, bulldozes Catholic and Protestant churches, and is accused of myriad other human rights abuses, it is authoritarian. When an authoritarian state violates a treaty with Britain to the detriment of the rule of law in Hong Kong, we have a moral as well as legal duty to act.

Tom Tugendhat is surely right to argue that we should guarantee the citizenship and right of abode of Hong Kong’s people. Even better if the Commonwealth were to make this pledge at the Heads of Government meeting in Rwanda next year. This is the very least we can do given our obligations to the people of Hong Kong. The very worst we can do is pretend not to notice in anticipation of favourable trading terms.

Conservatives must not forget their history. Unbridled market-worship is much of the reason the younger generation struggles to identify with Conservatism, and prioritising trade over our obligations to the people of Hong Kong would be a tragic affirmation of their criticisms. In contrast, our greatest moments have been where we have stood up for underdogs beleaguered by authoritarianism. The consequences for standing up for Hong Kong may well be punitive trading terms with China. But, in Thatcher’s words, at least “the eyes of the world would now know what China is like.”

Real Estate, and Personal Injury Lawyers. Contact us at: https://westlakelegal.com 

Merkel and Johnson to Macron: No to blocking EU trade deal with Brazil

Westlake Legal Group Boris Merkel and Johnson to Macron: No to blocking EU trade deal with Brazil trade The Blog Mercosur deal Jair Bolsonaro EU Emmanuel Macron Boris Johnson Angela Merkel Amazon rainforest

French President Emmanuel Macron got out over his skis Friday when he made a surprise announcement as the G7 weekend began. The summit’s host was so freaked out over the burning Amazon rainforest in Brazil that blocking an EU trade deal with Brazil sounded like a reasonable response. The leaders of Germany and the U.K. disagreed.

As I was finishing a post on Friday about Macron’s panic over reports on the rainforest fires in Brazil and Macron’s attempts to meddle into how President Bolsonaro was managing the fires, the French president decided to throw fuel on the fire, so to speak. Macron escalated his bullying of Bolsonaro and announced his intention to block an EU trade deal during the G7 meeting. Suddenly the Mercosur deal was thrown into the mix.

Germany’s Angela Merkel, a climate change alarmist herself, jumped on the bandwagon when Macron was very publicly attacking Bolsonaro. She, too, thought that the topic of climate change should be at the top of the G7 agenda. The host of the G7 sets the agenda, after all, and Macron has been deeply unpopular in France. His chances of re-election are not looking good right now so it’s not very surprising that Macron wanted to take the opportunity to ingratiate himself with the environmental radicals in his country. Merkel has done the same for several years in Germany so her agreement with Macron wasn’t a surprise, either.

A free trade agreement reached in 2019 at the G20 Osaka summit, after twenty years of negotiations, the European Union–Mercosur free trade agreement is the largest trade deal struck by both the EU and Mercosur. The agreement has to be signed and ratified before it goes into force. As it turns out, Angela Merkel is not so blinded by her beliefs in the urgency of climate change that she is willing to sacrifice such a big trade deal. Imagine that. While Macron was claiming that Bolsonaro lied to him in Osaka, Merkel said, hey, hold up there, buddy. Not so fast. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson voiced his objection to Macron’s meddling, too.

“There are all sorts of people who will take any excuse at all to interfere with trade and to frustrate trade deals and I don’t want to see that,” Johnson told reporters.

Late on Friday, a spokesman for Merkel said not concluding the trade deal with the Mercosur countries of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay was “not the appropriate answer to what is happening in Brazil now.”

“The non-conclusion of the Mercosur agreement would not help to reduce forest destruction in Brazil,” the spokesman added.

The opposition from these two brought about a statement from Macron’s office that Merkel was briefed on his position.

An official at Macron’s office said the French leader had later explained his position to Merkel. “It is something the president explained to the Chancellor so she understands the position he took yesterday and that’s something she understood very well,” the official said.

Yes, she understood what Macron was saying. She just didn’t agree with his level of hysteria. She certainly wasn’t about to agree to tank an important trade deal when the German economy is floundering with a shrinking GDP and slipping into negative growth.

Blocking the deal likely wouldn’t have gone over favorably at the G7 summit anyway. Macron needs other member states to form a blocking minority to veto the deal. Brazil isn’t a member of the G7. President Bolsonaro is not in attendance to speak up against a move that smacks of blatant political opportunism by Macron. Macron’s approval has increased slowly in recent weeks but using this subject to improve his standing with voters was a bad idea that was quickly stopped.

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WSJ Op-Ed Gets Social Conservatives (and Trump Supporters) Way Wrong – Yet Again

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I begin with a disclosure.

The Wall Street Journal piece we will examine was penned by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI)’s Iain Murray.  CEI is a fine organization.  And I consider a great many of their people to be friends – including Murray.

But Murray really misses the mark with Tuesday’s “Free-Marketeers Have Taken Social Conservatives for Granted.”

And let us please take a moment to note:

In this piece, the Venn diagram of Social Conservatives and Donald Trump supporters – is a nigh perfect overlay.

Murray fundamentally misunderstands Social Conservatives – in almost exactly the same way the Never Trump Right misunderstands Trump supporters.

It’s why the Never Trump Right (and many others) has spent the Era of Trump wondering how Social Conservatives can possibly support the serially-marrying-and-philandering Trump.

As you read on, when you read “Social Conservatives” – you can mentally add “and Trump supporters.”

Actually, Murray’s title is semi-accurate.  The Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent has indeed taken Social Conservatives for granted.

But the title’s unspoken, incorrect assumption is Social Conservatives – aren’t also free-marketeers.  Many if not most…are.

The subtitle really begins to reveal the inaccuracies:

“Capitalists need to make the case that prosperity is crucial for protecting tradition and security.”

Again, most social conservatives already understand and agree with this.

What Social Conservatives have witnessed for the last half century-plus – is the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent fail to protect the free market – AND tradition and security.

DC is a two-party collusive cabal.  Democrats and Republicans put on Partisan Theater – squawking at each other on TV and in print.  But it is all for show.

All the while, Ds and Rs have been working together to empower and enrich themselves and their cronies – at the expense of the nation.

DC gets bigger and bigger.  And regulates more and more.  And spends more and more.  Because the bigger DC is – the more power and money the DC cabal has.

All the while, America has grown poorer and poorer.

The Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent – failed miserably in their many attempts to stop any of this.

Meanwhile, DC has left our nation’s borders wide open to a mass Third World invasion.  Because Democrats want Third World votes – and Republicans want Third World cheap labor for their donors.

And the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent – has been the right-of-center head cheerleader for this insanity.

Stop right there.

Murray acknowledges social conservatives want to protect tradition and security.  Mass Third World immigration – completely destroys both.

Social Conservatives do not oppose mass Third World immigration – because of anything having to do with race.

Social Conservatives oppose mass Third World immigration – because they have witnessed a half century-plus of it…and it has eviscerated our nation’s tradition and security.

We have idiotic sanctuary cities and states.

Which much more closely resemble the Third World they’ve imported than they do the US.

Which refuse to work with law enforcement – and release illegal alien gang member murderers and rapists back into our disintegrating society.

Mass importing Third World Worlders – has obscenely overcrowded the likes of our nation’s classrooms and emergency rooms.

Teachers spend most of their time working with students who do not speak English – at the expense of everyone else.

Americans wait endless hours to see health care providers – because there simply aren’t enough health care providers to handle the overload.

And the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent – has long championed open borders.  Which would turn America – into a sanctuary nation.  And this tradition-and-security insanity – would occur EVERYWHERE.

I can’t imagine why Social Conservatives have tuned out the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent.

Mass Third World immigration – is awful American economic policy too.  Because America is a nation – with an economy.  Not an economy – with a nation.

Americans elect American officials – to do what’s best for America and Americans.  Crazy, I know.

Mass importing Third Worlders – takes jobs from and drives down wages for Americans.

Mass importing Third Worlders – drives up the likes of housing and health care costs for Americans.

Mass importing Third Worlders – costs us tens of billions of dollars per annum (and probably much more) in government money.  In welfare, health care and education money spent on the invaders.

Americans are taxed more and more and more – to pay for all of this.  They are taxed more and more and more – on fewer jobs and lower wages, and while paying higher housing and health care costs.

I can’t imagine why Social Conservatives have tuned out the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent.

Murray only mention’s Trump once:

“While President Trump’s antipathy to free trade was well-known, his and other conservatives’ sudden embrace of aggressive antitrust actions was more surprising. Now self-described ‘national conservative’ thinkers are pushing industrial policy—government planning that meddles with economic decision-making to promote favored industries or social outcomes.”

This is just…so much wrong.  In the interest of verbiage conservation – we’ll only address the free trade wrongness.

Trump doesn’t have “antipathy to free trade.”  He’s just about the only guy in DC actually trying to achieve it.

Trump has rightly highlighted the incredibly awful, one-sided, anti-US trade deals DC has spent decades cutting – and the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent has been applauding.

The US engages in free trade.  The rest of the planet – absolutely does not.

Nigh every other nation tariffs the daylight out of our stuff.  Nigh every nation severely limits the import of our stuff.  Nigh every other nation subsidizes their stuff – thereby rendering it artificially cheaper on the global market.

This isn’t free trade.  This is FAKE tree trade.

Social Conservatives work on farms.  And on assembly lines.  And in mines.  And on oil rigs.

They’re the ones whose jobs are outsourced, whose wages are crushed, whose towns are hollowed out – by DCs fake free trade.

Because DCs fake free trade makes making anything in the US less attractive than…anywhere else on the planet.

And now the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent is defending this obscenely awful DC status quo – against Trump trying to even things out.

I can’t imagine why Social Conservatives have tuned out the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent.

One last thought….

We’ve noted the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent’s pronounced, prolonged inability to effect any positive change.

Trump has already delivered a ton.

The best US economy in decades.  The lowest unemployment in decades – including the lowest Black and Hispanic unemployment ever.  Great Wall Street growth.

And great consumer confidence and spending.  In large part because for the first time in half a century-plus – wages are actually, substantially increasing.

How and why are wages finally increasing?

Because Trump is deporting competitors to Americans for jobs and wages.

And because Trump is – amongst other helpful things – imposing tariffs on trade cheats.  Thereby making America exponentially more attractive to job creators – who are returning to our shores in growing numbers.

Two things to which the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent are vociferously opposed.

I can’t imagine why Social Conservatives have tuned out the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent.

Trump just this week achieved yet another Social Conservative win – by delivering yet another economic policy win.

Trump banned federally funded clinics from giving abortion referrals.  Which caused the nation’s largest abortion mill – Planned Parenthood – to refuse the federal funding.

Boom.  Something very simple the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent could have very easily delivered at any point for years and years – but never, ever did.  (Where were you on this, George W. Bush Administration?)

Trump is time and again delivering on Social Conservative priorities – on economic, traditional and security grounds.

The Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent – never, ever has.

And is now actively working against – the policies that are benefiting Social Conservatives.

I can’t imagine why Social Conservatives have tuned out the Free-Market-Uber-Alles Contingent.

The post WSJ Op-Ed Gets Social Conservatives (and Trump Supporters) Way Wrong – Yet Again appeared first on RedState.

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Greg Hands: One might think that no-one in Brussels has read our Alternative Arrangements report

On the face of it, this week’s exchange of letters between Boris Johnson and Donald Tusk doesn’t offer a lot of encouragement for the great majority of us who do want to see a Brexit deal done between London and Brussels. Tusk’s response in particular, came across as rather intransigent, even absurdly claiming that the Prime Minister is seeking a return of a hard border in Ireland.

At times, the whole debate about the Northern Ireland Backstop is reminiscent of that between Pope Leo X and Martin Luther in the years after 1517. Brexit can appear like a debate between two rival sets of theologians. In 1517, the issue was transubstantiation or consubstantiation: did the communion wafer actually become the body of Christ, or was it merely representative of it?

This was a debate which would have been barely familiar to anyone just a few years before. And the sale of indulgences, and the basis of the scriptures and so on all formed part of it, too. At the Diet of Worms in 1521, the debate came to a head between the representatives of the papacy and Emperor Charles V on the one hand, and Luther and his followers on the other.

Four years on, however, what the theologians had missed was that the debate was no longer about narrow points of doctrine, but had come to involve much more fundamental principles like self-determination and popular consent, and a desire to find a solution that all sides could work with.

The current Brexit debate seems like that debate in 1521. Brussels has become entrenched. It is sticking hard and fast to the backstop, stubbornly ignoring the bigger picture. Practical politicians need to give this a fresh look. Unfortunately, the current Commission remains in place until November. A new set of eyes would understand that whatever the merits of the backstop, it simply isn’t going to pass through the Commons. And without the assent of the Commons, there is, by definition, never going to be a Brexit deal. That has been the case since early 2017 – whatever deal was negotiated would have to be agreed by the Commission and Council with the UK Government, and then ratified by the Commons and the European Parliament. All four hurdles need to be crossed. Three isn’t good enough.

So the backstop, like transubstantiation in 1521, might seem esoteric. But Johnson is also right when he describes it as anti-democratic, and therefore, like in 1521, emblematic of wider and more significant issues. He puts it succinctly in his letter to Tusk: “The backstop locks the UK, potentially indefinitely, into an international treaty which will bind us into a customs union and which applies large areas of single market legislation in Northern Ireland. It places a substantial regulatory border, rooted in that treaty, between Northern Ireland and Great Britain. The treaty provides no sovereign means of exiting unilaterally and affords the people of Northern Ireland no influence over the legislation which applies to them. That is why the backstop is anti-democratic.”

And that isn’t his only objection to the backstop. So, if the backstop isn’t going to pass the Commons, and doesn’t any longer have the agreement of the UK Government, it is self-evident that we need to urgently find something that does. This might seem an impossible task with just 72 days to go until Brexit date.

But much of the work has already been done. When Nicky Morgan and I agreed to co-chair the Prosperity UK Alternative Arrangements Commission in April, we knew we would be working with a superb team of technical experts from around the world – experts in borders, customs, logistics, transit and so on – and that we were giving ourselves around 10 weeks to produce a report on how it could all be done.

Fortunately, we knew that both sides wanted to see the work done. In their Strasbourg Declaration (actually, not that far from Worms) in March, both sides had committed themselves to finding alternative arrangements to the Backstop. When we published our 272 page report and draft protocols in July, we therefore thought we ought to be pushing at an open door. We went three times to Northern Ireland, twice to Dublin, and to Brussels, Berlin and The Hague to market the proposals to politicians, the media and other opinion-formers.

Both Johnson and Jeremy Hunt warmly welcomed our report during the recent Conservative leadership campaign. It should therefore not have a been a surprise to Messrs Tusk and Juncker that Alternative Arrangements would form the explicit or implicit basis of a refreshed UK approach on Brexit. The Prime Minister’s letter was, in my opinion, carefully crafted to be both realistic and conciliatory on what could be done, but one thing was clear, that the backstop could not form part of the deal, as it won’t pass the Commons. That is simply a statement of Realpolitik.

So Tusk’s response was disappointing. A Brussels spokesman quoted by the BBC claimed to not know much about Alternative Arrangements at all, asserting that the Prime Minister’s letter “does not set out what any alternative arrangements could be” and there was “no guarantee” they would be ready by the end of the transition period. It is almost as if nobody around Tusk had actually read our report.

Our Commission concluded clearly that Alternative Arrangements can and will work. But they won’t be up and running by October 31st. This is not a “No Deal” blueprint. Quite the opposite: our solution is the only one available which leads to a Brexit solution which will pass all four hurdles. And our proposals do need the (or at least a) transition period. Many of them can be brought in quite quickly. Some like the trusted trader scheme might take 12 – 15 months. We don’t believe anything will take longer than two to three years.

The Brexit solution lies in Alternative Arrangements. It just needs both sides to grasp it. Otherwise, I fear there could be a schism between London and Brussels which might take years, maybe decades to overcome.

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New Trump stimulus idea: A payroll tax cut?

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I laughed when I got to the part of this Times story where “Administration officials said the idea had not been pushed with Mr. Trump and tried to tamp talk of it down.” I can just imagine how the chatter about a payroll tax cut got started in the Oval Office:

“If Powell doesn’t cut rates and we end up in a recession, I’m finished next year. We need a stimulus! Gimme ideas, now.”
“We’ve already cut income taxes, Mr. President. There’s always the payroll tax, I guess, but—”
“Payroll tax! Great idea. Let’s start pushing cuts.”
“No, wait. There are like eight different reasons why Pelosi would never–”
“Payroll tax cuts!”
“Wait.”

Too late!

Why would Trump’s advisors be more cautious than he is in advertising a payroll tax cut proposal? For the simple reason that (a) Pelosi won’t lift a finger to help Trump goose the economy, knowing how that would help him in 2020, and, more importantly, (b) she can actually turn this around on Trump and use it as leverage to showcase unpopular parts of the GOP’s own agenda. Presumably POTUS understands the first point and thinks that he can use Pelosi’s refusal as electoral fodder against the Dems: “We proposed a tax cut that would directly benefit the middle class, not the rich. Democrats normally love the idea of cutting the payroll tax. But Pelosi turned us down because she doesn’t care about you!” And it’s true, incidentally, that Democrats typically prefer cutting the payroll tax to cutting income taxes since the payroll tax is regressive. In a vacuum, they’d be interested in this idea.

But we’re not in a vacuum, we’re 14 months out from an election in which Trump’s chances rest almost entirely on the pillar of economic growth. If that pillar starts to crumble, Nancy Pelosi isn’t racing in to reinforce it with a payroll tax stimulus. And, contra Trump’s suspicions, I don’t think it’d be easy to scapegoat her for refusing either. She’d have a salable argument against cutting payroll taxes, namely, that doing so would increase the risk that entitlements will be underfunded. We must save Social Security and Medicare! Then she’d go on offense, using Trump’s payroll tax proposal to refocus public attention on the less progressive tax initiatives the White House has championed in the past. Rick Newman sees it coming:

Pelosi and her fellow Dems would probably embrace the idea of a payroll tax—then ask Trump for a bunch of concessions he couldn’t possibly agree to. In exchange for Trump’s payroll tax, Democrats would need to show their own political base they got something to help their own election odds in 2020. What might that be?

They could agree to a payroll tax cut in exchange for rolling back the 2017 tax cuts for businesses and the wealthy. Or they could ask for a more aggressive estate tax and use the money raised to fund social programs. Or they could insist that the $10,000 cap on the deductibility of state and local income taxes, which hit Democratic states harder than Republican ones, be repealed. They could ask for all of those things.

Trump would say no to all of that, of course. The point here is to stimulate the economy by putting more money into the hands of taxpayers to spend, he’d note, not to take it out of the hands of the rich and deposit it into the Treasury. Nonetheless, lefties would use the debate to revisit all sorts of unpleasant trivia about the 2017 tax cuts that undercut Trump’s populist image:

Not only would Trump not end up getting his payroll tax cut, he’d end up with a snoutful of damaging Democratic messaging on tax policy for his trouble. Even if, against all odds, he managed to work something out with Pelosi, there’s no guarantee that he wouldn’t change his mind halfway through negotiations after Hannity or whoever started complaining loudly about the concessions he made to get a deal. And if that happened, with Trump walking away from a deal suddenly, Pelosi would then be able to argue that he’s the one ultimately who didn’t care enough about the middle class to make payroll tax cuts happen, not her.

His advisors see all of this coming from a mile away, which is why they’re eager to tell reporters that this idea isn’t seriously being pushed. Trump himself seems less concerned.

I wonder how he would react if Pelosi offered him a payroll tax cut in exchange for universal background checks on gun purchases. That’d be hugely risky on her part since both prongs of that deal would be very popular; if Trump agreed, he’d get a double shot of goodwill from the electorate, making it a huge miscalculation by Dems. The gamble on her part would be that he’s too afraid of disappointing his most populist fans on gun rights to agree to a deal like that and thus would rule out a measure that enjoys 90 percent popularity across the country. If/when he did, Pelosi would have a double whammy to use against him: “We were willing to work with the president to help the middle class but apparently he cares more about letting people buy guns without accountability than he does about putting money back in the pockets of the middle class.” Here he is this afternoon sounding more skeptical about expanding background checks after sounding much more enthusiastic two weeks ago.

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