Saturday, 18 March 2017

Weekend Update 18/03/2017 Divided We Stand.

We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal; that they are endowed by their Creator with certain inalienable rights; that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness outside of the EUSSR.”

With grateful thanks to the writers of the US Declaration of Independence.

She came she saw, she talked. She even played the China card.  The Donald listened but trumped. But at the end of the day Chancellor Merkel failed; short Germany. Germany now faces a trade war with America and losing access to Great Britain, its largest trade partner in Europe. Thousands if not hundreds of thousands of German jobs are now in jeopardy. A gloomy EUSSR future just got a whole lot gloomier. And no one has yet solved the problems of Greece, Italy, Spain, France and Deutsche Bank. Worst of all, no one in Europe seems to be seriously trying to sort out their problems. Something will turn up, they hope.

Freedom is the right to tell people what they do not want to hear.

George Orwell.

Trade Talk Shows Trump, Merkel Have Little Common Ground

by Patrick Donahue and Toluse Olorunnipa
17 March 2017, 22:21 GMT
Donald Trump’s and Angela Merkel’s rhetoric on global trade showed no sign that the two leaders are anywhere close to finding common ground.

In their first meeting at the White House since Trump’s inauguration as president, Trump reprised his complaints that the U.S. had been treated “very, very unfairly” and poured loaded praise over German trade officials for besting their American counterparts.

“The negotiators for Germany have done a far better job than the negotiators for the United States,” Trump told reporters in the East Room alongside Merkel Friday. “But hopefully we can even it out.”

Merkel, whose visit with her new U.S. counterpart was marked by cool distance in their public appearances, was left to explain that trade negotiations are the province of the European Union, not her government, and that there are no such German interlocutors.

“We’ve transferred competencies over to the European Union,” Merkel said. “That means the European Commission negotiates these free trade agreements.”

The gap in perception between a president in office for eight weeks and a German chancellor who has governed for almost 12 years may foreshadow the widening chasm across the Atlantic. Merkel had no illusion of the differences between her globally oriented view of geopolitics and the “America First” dictum with which Trump has unsettled traditional U.S. partners.

The two were left to talk, based on the premise that, in Merkel’s words, “it’s much better to speak with each other than past each other.”

----For her part, Merkel made clear that the two don’t see eye to eye -- and several times echoed the president’s language of pursuing “fair” treatment.

“Even if there are differences of opinion, it’s worth sitting down together,” Merkel said. The two sides should at least strive to find “compromises that are fair to both.”

Trump’s complaint on trade reflected comments by the head of his National Trade Council, Peter Navarro, who has laid into Germany’s trade surplus, accusing Europe’s biggest economy of exploiting its position within the euro area to gain advantage. He was among those in the audience for the news conference. Merkel and her government have rejected those accusations as absurd.

“I don’t believe in an isolationist policy, but I also believe that a policy of trade should be a fair policy,” Trump said.

Fri Mar 17, 2017 | 7:33pm EDT

In first Trump-Merkel meeting, awkward body language and a quip

The first face-to-face meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel started awkwardly on Friday and ended even more oddly, with a quip by Trump about wiretapping that left the German leader visibly bewildered.

The two leaders share different views on trade, Russia and immigration, leading to some uncomfortable moments at a joint news conference on Friday in which they took pains to downplay differences that were hard to mask.

Friday's meeting was the first between the new U.S. president and the long-serving stateswoman, who leads Europe's largest economy. It was seen as one that could help determine the future of the transatlantic alliance and shape their working relationship.

----Near the start of the news conference, Trump pressed Merkel for Germany to meet NATO's military spending target, and Merkel reiterated her country's commitment to the 2 percent military spending goal.

"I reiterated to Chancellor Merkel my strong support for NATO as well as the need for our NATO allies to pay their fair share for the cost of defense. Many nations owe vast sums of money from past years, and it is very unfair to the United States. These nations must pay what they owe."

Trump also stood by unproven claims that the Obama administration tapped his phones, and expressed solidarity with a surprised Merkel, whose government charged Washington in 2013 may have been spying on her.

“As far as wiretapping, I guess, by this past administration, at least we have something in common perhaps,” Trump said to Merkel, who looked bewildered as she stared back at him from her podium.

In 2013 the German government said it had information that the United States may have monitored Merkel's mobile phone, prompting her to call Obama to demand immediate clarification.

Fri Mar 17, 2017 | 7:37am EDT

Berlin: Merkel's call with Chinese president not linked to her U.S. trip

German Chancellor Angela Merkel's phone call with the Chinese president, in which they agreed to work for free trade, had no connection to her visit to Washington that is overshadowed by trade issues, a German government spokesman said on Friday.

Merkel had been due to meet U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Tuesday but had to postpone the meeting until Friday due to bad weather.

On Merkel's call with Chinese President Xi Jinping, German government spokesman Georg Streiter said: "This phone call had been planned for a long time and was in no way connected to Merkel's trip to Washington."

Fri Mar 17, 2017 | 9:51am EDT

Germany, U.S. risk worsening trade ties: business chamber

Germany and the United States must work hard to prevent a deterioration of trade relations between the two countries, the head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany said on Friday.

AmCham Germany President Bernhard Mattes made the comments ahead of a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and German Chancellor Angela Merkel later on Friday, which is expected to be overshadowed by Trump's plan to impose a border tax on German cars.

"Even though we currently see the likelihood of a trade war between the United States and Europe as small, the topic is still present and not completely off the table," Mattes wrote in a column in the Handelsblatt business daily.

"We call on those responsible to do everything possible to avoid a standstill or even a worsening of our trade relations. In a trade war, there can be no winners as the global economy is too networked and our supply chains too international."

Mattes noted that the United States has had a trade deficit for much of the last 35 years with the deficit growing tenfold during the fastest period of U.S. growth of the last 50 years, from 1983 to 1987.

"Protectionist measures like punitive customs, import taxes or the termination of international trade treaties would therefore only help the U.S. economy temporarily," he wrote.

Germany's 50 billion euro trade surplus with the United States has been a source of tension between Washington and Berlin.

Trump has warned that the United States will impose a border tax of 35 percent on cars that German carmaker BMW plans to build at a new plant in Mexico and export to the U.S. market.

That could prompt Germany to file a suit against the United States at the World Trade Organization, Economy Minister Brigitte Zypries told Deutschlandfunk radio.

“We all know what to do, but we don’t know how to get re-elected once we have done it.”

Jean-Claude Juncker. Failed Luxembourg Prime Minister and ex-president of the Euro Group of Finance Ministers. Confessed liar. EC President.

"If the EU cannot resolve a small problem the size of Greece, what is the point of Europe?"

Romano Prodi, former President of the European Commission, former Italy Prime Minister.

As usual most weekends we leave the final update to Jason in California and an American perspective.

Wrangling Over Budget Proposal & “TrumpCare” Highlights Ideological Splits in Within U.S. Republican Party That Make Governing a Challenge

N. Jason Jencka March 18th, 2017 3:15 am ET

While the trans-Atlantic political punditry has been journalistically occupied today with chronicling the awkward non-handshake between President Trump & Chancellor Merkel, Washington itself was locked in contentious negotiation over Mr. Trump’s domestic agenda. Debate was most acutely focused on the “American Healthcare Act”, a proposed piece of legislation that would replace the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare) enacted by the previous administration. While reactions to the bill itself have been roundly negative what is most striking are the exposed divisions within the Republican Party. While moderates have taken issue with projected increases in premiums for through scrapping of the individual mandate to participate in exchanges, staunch conservatives have expressed displeasure with how the bill retains a material Federal role in regulating the healthcare marketplace. Given that the legislation must pass both houses of Congress to become law, garnering the requisite votes for passage represents a delicate-to-borderline impossible balancing act for Republican Congressional leadership. The present situation is one wherein garnering additional votes from strict Conservatives such as those in the Freedom Caucus in the house comes at the expense of making the legislation yet more unattractive to Senate moderates such as Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. 

Given nearly assured unified Democratic opposition and a razor thin Senate majority of 52-48, the Trump Administration can ill afford defections from within its own party on the contentious legislation. Further, lest it be believed that the issue is as binary as a conservative House and moderate Senate lacking harmony on the bill, ultraconservative Kentucky Senator Rand Paul has gone as far as to declare the bill “dead on arrival” in the Senate, predicting opposition from Ted Cruz of Texas among others. While following through on campaign promises to “repeal and replace Obamacare” remains a key Trump administration priority it’s finding that Mr. Trump’s February comment that “nobody knew healthcare could be so complicated” was rather prophetic.


Mathew Nussbaum & Jennifer Habercorn Politico March 8th, 2017:

N. Jason Jencka is presently studying Finance and Economics at Sierra Nevada College, located near the shores of Lake Tahoe on the border of California and Nevada. His interests include the interplay between world markets and the global political sphere, with a focus on developments of both sides of the Atlantic in North America and Europe. In his leisure time he enjoys connecting with those people that have an interesting story to tell and a genuine desire to make an impact in the world.

“Doublethink means the power of holding two contradictory beliefs in one’s mind simultaneously, and accepting both of them.”
George Orwell. 1984.

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