“The nationalist and mercantilist approach of the United States still has a bright future ahead”

Donald Trump, during a meeting in Fayetteville (North Carolina), on September 19.

Chronic. A year ago, Donald Trump, speaking at the United Nations General Assembly, hammered that “The future does not belong to the globalists, the future belongs to the patriots”. True to his mantra “America first”, the President of the United States called for a withdrawal of multilateral institutions, however created from nothing by Washington at the end of the Second World War. Since his election, he has tried to undermine the functioning of this system accused of serving the interests of Americans. The first reflex was to exclude yourself. In a dramatic turnaround, the Trump administration now realizes that it would be more effective to weaken it from within.

While an unprecedented number of organizations are led to renew their leadership, the United States is showing intense activism to control the levers. From the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) to the World Trade Organization (WTO), via the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), Washington, noting the risks of a continuation of the policy of empty chair, is resolved to become more involved in these institutions.

Donald Trump has just succeeded in having his advisor to Latin America, Mauricio Claver-Carone, elected at the head of the IDB. While this position was traditionally reserved for a Latin American, this takeover has a clear goal: to stem Chinese influence in a region particularly weakened by the Covid-19 pandemic.

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While the World Bank is now chaired by the very Trumpist David Malpass and Geoffrey Okamoto, close to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, has been propelled number two in the International Monetary Fund, the US offensive is now continuing at the OECD . The United States seeks to impose Christopher Liddell, the current chief of staff of the White House to the post of secretary general. This financier from the corporate world does not really fit the job description, until now entrusted to an emeritus economist. But Donald Trump is expecting only one thing from him: that he kills in the bud European attempts to tax the American Internet giants.

“A very cynical attitude”

The change of American footing is also noticeable at the WTO. After attempting to paralyze the functioning of the organization’s arbitral tribunal, Donald Trump threatened to withdraw from the institution he accuses – not necessarily wrongly – of not being sufficiently firm vis-à-vis a China, which is breaking free from world trade rules. There again, it is no longer a question of leaving the ship, but of placing the American Alan Wolff to ensure the interim of the Brazilian Roberto Azevêdo, who resigned. The United States are all the more motivated as the WTO has just inflicted a new snub on them by considering that the customs duties imposed by Washington on Chinese products are undue.

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