Starting a trade war is like dropping a bomb, you never know what’s going to blow up. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:
I’ve told you that once you start down the Trade War path forever will it dominate your destiny.
Well here we are. Trump slaps big tariffs on aluminum and steel in a bid to leverage Gary Cohn’s ICE Wall plan to control the metals and oils futures markets. I’m not sure how much of this stuff I believe but it is clear that the futures price for most strategically important commodities are divorced from the real world.
Alistair Crooke also noted the importance of Trump’s ‘energy dominance’ policy recently, which I suggest strongly you read.
But today’s edition of “As the Trade War Churns” is about China and their willingness to shift their energy purchases away from U.S. producers. Irina Slav at Oilprice.com has the good bits.
The latest escalation in the tariff exchange, however, is a little bit different than all the others so far. It’s different because it came after Beijing said it intends to slap tariffs on U.S. oil, gas, and coal imports.
China’s was a retaliatory move to impose tariffs on US$50 billion worth of U.S. goods, which followed Trump’s earlier announcement that another US$50 billion in goods would be subjected to a 25-percent tariff starting July 6.
It’s unclear as to what form this will take but there’s also this report from the New York Times which talks about the China/U.S. energy trade.
Things could get worse if the United States and China ratchet up their actions [counter-tariffs]. Mr. Trump has already promised more tariffs in response to China’s retaliation. China, in turn, is likely to back away from an agreement to buy $70 billion worth of American agricultural and energy products — a deal that was conditional on the United States lifting its threat of tariffs.
“China’s proportionate and targeted tariffs on U.S. imports are meant to send a strong signal that it will not capitulate to U.S. demands,” said Eswar Prasad, a professor of international trade at Cornell University. “It will be challenging for both sides to find a way to de-escalate these tensions.”
But as Ms. Slav points out, China has enjoyed taking advantage of the glut of U.S. oil as shale drillers flood the market with cheap oil. The West Texas Intermediate/Brent Spread has widened out to more than $10 at times.
By slapping counter tariffs on U.S. oil, that would more than overcome the current WTIC/Brent spread and send Chinese refiners looking for new markets.
Hey, do you know whose oil is sold at a discount to Brent on a regular basis?
Iran’s. That’s whose.
To continue reading: China’s Oil Trade Retaliation is Iran’s Gain