Greg Ip, writing for The Wall Street Journal, examines the relationship of American President Donald Trump and French President Emmanuel Macron. The men have different styles, but they may be complimentary enough to work together to avoid any disastrous trade wars. Ip writes (abridged):
French President Emmanuel Macron and U.S. President Donald Trump are ideological and stylistic opposites. Mr. Macron is a suave globalist who is passionate about global warming, the Syrian civil war and the European Union. Mr. Trump is a brash nationalist contemptuous of global institutions and wary of foreign entanglements.
At present, global economic circumstances have aligned their interests. China and Germany boast the world’s largest trade surpluses, and that creates problems for both Mr. Macron and Mr. Trump, though in different ways.
Mr. Macron, [was] elected on a platform to reinvigorate the French economy.
France … suffers from having lost competitive position against Germany in the last 15 years, which can’t be corrected via devaluation since they share the euro. That has fueled massive German trade surpluses and French deficits.
Mr. Macron is also the European Union’s most vocal critic of Chinese trade practices.
Germany … Europe’s biggest economy typically pushes for a much softer line on trade disputes because its export-dependent companies worry about retaliation.
One economist who advises the French government says France suffers from Germany’s trade surplus, but believes the imbalance should be fixed with more German public spending and European fiscal integration rather than the tariffs and quotas that Mr. Trump favors.
That adviser adds that while France is less exposed than Germany to U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum and perhaps cars, it would nonetheless side with Germany on any resulting trade war for the sake of EU cohesion.
Mr. Macron is a charmer and Mr. Trump likes to be charmed, which should make for a warm week between the two. But charm alone may not be enough to bend Mr. Trump on trade. He will have to be convinced Mr. Macron’s globalist path offers a superior way for him to put America first.
Read more here.