I have lived in Asia for almost two decades. There is one thing that is clear to me that most Asians are economic nationalists and Trump very much knows this. Western countries must understand this wall against their goods and services that is well beyond reducing tariff barriers.
These barriers are also cultural including economic nationalism. The implications regarding whether the Canadian government bails out Bombardier having a terrible time with its airplane manufacturing division should be clear. Canada must stand up for itself not going into ideological full free trade purity especially given the nationalism brewing in Europe and in the south.
When I lived in South Korea, the idea of buying an American car was seen by South Koreans as ridiculous and unpatriotic even though it was Ford that provided the initial technology that got Hyundai started. Okay, one could argue that a good number of Korean cars were as good as American cars – but not all. Luxury cars like Cadillacs or Lincoln were spurned with less globally well known ones like the Hyundai Executive.
While to be fair to China, it has been a large source of importations of western cars with Chinese people feeling no great loyalty certainly to Japan and not that much to neighbor South Korea.
However, huge state subsidies to globally uncompetitive state run industries is not a positive. Just like in Japan, you can forget anyone in those countries being open to imports of high quality American or European rice. Many older Japanese are fixated on seeing their number one food staple as having to be in their minds as being the best.
The issues of Asian currency wars have yet to fully take hold in America as the US has staged some degree of a positive rebound from the 2008 economic meltdown. But there is a general view that the value of the yuan has been artificially kept down to keep Chinese exports competitive.
Meanwhile, the devaluation of the Japanese yen has been spectacular and this year has been huge with the Koean won. These currency advantages help to maintain Asian export industries at the expense of US manufacturing or US factory start-ups at times.
Now to Canada with its very low dollar. In the face of the previous Conservative government’s gutting of its only multinational telecommunication giant, Nortel maker of hardware and Asian nationalism to subsidize its own aerospace industry, Canada must not lose its manufacturer of medium size airplanes.
It needs to play hardball with the overly advantaged US Boeing and European Airbus and buy into a separate set-up entity called Bombardier Aerospace. It needs to disproportionately substitute Bombardier jets for others excluding Dash Dehaviland planes.
The mothballing of the jet fighter Avro made in Canada was a travesty. If much smaller Sweden can build its own Saab jets then why not Canada if it has to team up with a variety of Scandinavian or other partners though staying on top in terms of control.
The huge Canadian aerospace should not be primarily dependent on the US military as in NORAD. Canada should be committed to building its own plane and purchasing hundreds over the next decade to make it clear its sovereignty applies equally against US or Russian intrusions and major political leverage against it by external major military mights, implied or explicit.
Trump’s, ever maintained popularity shows that economic nationalism is going to emerge. Does Canads have the guts and smarts to even build its own fighter jet finally in numbers that will allow it to protect its evermore attractive Arctic?
The country needs those kind of supported projects to make it more sovereign and proud again. Economic nationalism within reason should be discussed as a viable option as it coming back in America and never left the fast rising Asia. A region nevertheless that retains many positive and outstanding pro-growth and enterprise ideas such as we see in Hong Kong and Singapore and which has been my home away from home for decades.