The damage would be swift. Businesses, farmers and consumers have become so accustomed to NAFTA over the decades that most have forgotten what benefits actually flow from the agreement. But focus on just the problems faced by US agriculture. Right now, nearly all agricultural products go duty free into both Canada and Mexico. Most items flow with limited paperwork and little customs hassle. This will not be the case if NAFTA ends. US exports of corn into Mexico will suddenly face tariffs of 10-15%. Soybeans, grains and flours jump overnight to 10-15% as well. Mexico is one of the best markets for US red meat exports, especially for many cuts that Americans do not favor. Many of these products could face tariffs as high as 234%.
So what happens next? Under the terms of Section 301, USTR has completed two key items on the checklist. It will likely issue a damage assessment figure that can be used as the basis for a preliminary calculation of potential sanctions. These sanctions could be rolled out at any time between now and August 2018, if the US decides that China is making insufficient progress towards satisfactory resolution of the problems identified in the original complaint.
But as the comments and hearing illustrated, it remains unclear at this point what is the likely area or areas where USTR might chose to focus attention. The comments failed to shed new light on specific challenges in a way that might have made it easier to guess which way the investigation will roll in the future.
However, operating a port and making it a success is not just about cranes, gantries and dockyards. This is the “hard” infrastructure. The more challenging part is to replicate the “soft” infrastructure. In Singapore, investing in infrastructure has been combined with creating a supply chain ecosystem that develops technological, financial, legal, banking and a myriad of other supporting mechanisms. These capabilities are overlaid with a stable, corruption-free government and competent workforce. These capacities are interlocking and complement each other effectively. When working in tandem, it might be hard for OBOR projects to displace this “soft” infrastructure.
Countries have reacted to OBOR in a varied manner. Some have welcomed it. Others have expressed suspicion that OBOR acts as a pretext for China to dominate the Asia-Pacific and beyond. Regardless, the strategic imperatives for states located along the evolving trade route and potentially affected – directly or indirectly – by OBOR are clear. For a tiny trading nation like Singapore, adapting and leveraging on these changing circumstances are key to long-term prosperity. Leaders in Singapore have taken turns to repeatedly state that there are significant opportunities for Singapore and Singaporean businesses. Nevertheless, there are concerns, in some quarters, that OBOR will adversely affect Singapore, and this blog looks to explore if and how Singapore can maintain its maritime dominance amidst the development of OBOR infrastructure projects?
So Steam is no mere fledgling company--it is the Google/Amazon of PC gaming, a multi-billion dollar industry. Yet, when a single game they carried on their storefront pricked the religious sensibilities of authorities in Malaysia, they were pulled out by the ear and made to stand outside the class for an entire day. Hence, even if your product has all the bells and whistles, your company can face regulatory and other hurdles, along with newer policies that may block you from entering new or existing markets, and you may see your “disruptive” product fizzle out quickly.