Channel 8’s current affairs programme Focus, looked at the impact of the recent tariffs imposed on imported washing machines and solar panels by US President Donald Trump, and whether this signalled the possibility of an impending trade war, since the largest suppliers of these imports were South Korea and China respectively.
Focus interviewed Dean of International & Professional Experience and Senior Lecturer of Social Sciences (Sociology and Political Science) Trisha Craig on the implications of this move by President Trump. She noted that the move might help the working class in the manufacturing sector, but this could cause consumers to move away from using solar panels, which would hurt the same people who were installing the panels. She added that the higher prices on solar energy would cause some environmental impact as it might cause consumers to move towards fossil-based energy sources. On the US’ claim that the move would level the playing field with China, Dr Craig said that many countries in the west, particularly Europe, have questioned China’s dumping of cheap steel, which led to the EU’s attempt to strengthen its anti-dumping policy.
Dr Craig also noted that it would be in neither US nor China’s best interest to move too far towards a trade war. While the Chinese could impose some nominal tariffs against US agricultural products in the short run, the Chinese markets will still be hurt since they export four times more to the US than the US does to China. On the other hand, the US needs China in issues such as dealing with North Korea.
The programme aired on 1 Feb, 10.30pm.