Do you know that the Court of Appeal should be appreciated for upholding the election of Mr Adegboyega Oyetola as the Governor of the State of Osun? Do you know that apart from going on to complete the signature infrastructure left behind by Ogbeni Aregbesola, he has started massive rehabilitation of roads, hospitals and health centres? Do you know that he has approved the commencement of the State Health Insurance Scheme with universal coverage, ordered the release of school grants the re-introduction of History into the curriculum of schools apart from paying full salary to all workers? Do you know that he knows what to do with power? The words of Bob Marley cuts in: “ Some people are so poor. All they have is money.”.
Are you aware that on 29th May, 2019, President Buhari will be sworn in for second term? Do you know that the present Federal Executive Council will be dissolved any moment from now and a new one constituted? Do you know that we need more credible people in the new cabinet to power some key Ministries for the President, credible politicians like Ogbeni Rauf Adesoji Aregbesola with good carriage in deep knowledge of what the issues are, spartan discipline and passion for service to humanity and exemplary godliness? Do you know that a good mix of President Buhari with such individuals and a progressive National Assembly will deliver the goods to the people seemingly at this cross-road of searching for peace and viable economy? Do you know that we must avoid all cross-roads to our development now? You say: why? Come along. The poem of Kwesi Brew titled “The Mesh” interludes:
We have come to the Cross-roads
And I must either leave or come with you.
I lingered over the Choice
But in the darkness of my doubts
You lifted the lamp of love
And I saw in your face
The road that i should take.”
Do you know that there is a particular day this week that shows us the road that we should take? Do you know that the orgy of violence going on in various theatres can only be negotiated by social inclusion? Can the world forget in a hurry the rage of Quebec when it wanted to secede from Canada in 1984 and 1995, and Scotland from Great Britain in 2014? Do you know that Canada and the United Kingdom did not roll out tanks but the respective central governments approved the bilingual mandate of the agitators in Canada and Britain offered heavy economic and financial inducements for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom? Do you know that despite kidnapping, ritual killings and terror attacks, we must still celebrate living together in peace before President Buhari begins another term? Peace is a huge treasure! Bob Dylan interrupts:
“Yes, ‘n’ how many times must a man look up
Before he can see the sky?
Yes, ‘n’ how many ears must one man have
Before he can hear people cry?
Yes, ‘n’ how many deaths will it take till he knows
That too many people have died?
The answer, my friend, is blowin’ in the wind
The answer is blowin’ in the wind”.
Do you know that the UN General-Assembly, in its resolution 72/130, declared 16 May the International Day of Living Together in Peace? Do you know that the Day aims to uphold the desire to live and act together, united in differences and diversity in order to build a sustainable world of peace? As 16th May, 2019 knocks on our door, the constitution of UNESCO interludes: “Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that defences of peace must be constructed.”
Have you heard the news that an out-going Chief Executive of a State has declared that Nigeria may soon slip into recession? Do you know that the world is currently gripped with Trumpism, a development of the advent of Donald Trump as the President of the United States as he seeks to de-nuclearize the Korean Peninsula and Iran, giving unsolicited support to the failing Brexit process and squaring up with China to play trade offensives through ptotectionism? What is protectionism? Do you know that protectionism is an economic policy of a country to restrict imports from other countries from competing with local products? Are you aware that tariffs and import quotas are the most common types of protectionist policies? What is a tariff and what is an import quota? You care to know? Come along, please.
Do you know that a tariff is a tax levied on imported goods to raise government revenue? Do you know that it has its etymology from a Spanish town called Tarifa, being the first port in history to charge merchants for a fee? Are you aware that Edward III (1312–1377) was the first king to use tariffs to protect the local industries by buying over the Flemish weavers, centralized the raw wool trade and banned the importation of wool fabrics to Britain? Do you know that Henry VII (1485-1509) copied it to transform England from a raw wool exporter into wool manufacturing nation? Do you know that tariffs can be used to assert sovereignty as was done by the United States of America on 4th July, 1789? Do you know that it can emerge as a political issue prior to an election as was the case in the 2007 Australian Federal election? Do you know that tariffs can lead to social unrest like the 1905 meat riots in Chile? How? Come along, please.
As tariffs promote local producers, do you know that an import quota is a limit on the volume of a good that may be imported legally into a country established through an import licensing regime? Do you know that protectionism of technologies can be in form of patents, technical and scientific knowledge? Do you know that protectionism can manifest in restrictions on foreign direct investment, such as restrictions on the acquisition of domestic firms by foreign investors? Do you know that it can be in form of administrative barriers in form of administrative rules in relation to food safety, environmental standards, electrical safety as a way to introduce barriers to imports? Do you know that it can be in form of anti-dumping legislation to prevent import of cheaper foreign goods that would cause local firms to close down? Do you know that it can be in form of direct subsidies in the form of lump-sum payments or cheap loans given to local firms that cannot compete well against imports to protect local jobs, and to help local firms adjust to the world markets?
Do you know that it can be in form of export subsidies used by governments to increase exports by give payments to exporters of a proportion of the value of exported products? Do you know that it can be in form of exchange rate control through government intervention in the foreign exchange market to lower the value of its currency by selling its currency in the foreign exchange market to raise the cost of imports and lower the cost of exports, leading to an improvement in its trade balance? Do you know that protectionism can be in form of international patent systems particularly to regulate intellectual property systems? Do you know that it can be in form of political campaigns advocating domestic consumption? Do you know that it can be a legislative act by passing laws on protectionism through the legislature or ordering preferential governmental spending? Do you know that it can be done through the imposition of legal labour standards? Do you know that it can be done through Patent and Copyright laws in music, pharmacy and computer soft-wares? Do you know that the two largest economies in the world, the United States and China are slugging it out in a trade war as the United States wants to scrutinize China in fair trade practice? You care for the details? Come along, please.
Do you know that the trade policies of Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries were about mercantilism which aimed to reduce imports to a minimum and increase exports to a maximum? Do you know that Britain adopted protectionism for its domestic industries at different times in its history? Do you know that it abandoned its protectionist tendency in 1776 when Adam Smith published “The Wealth of Nations”?Do you know that this was followed with Britain signing a free trade Treaty with France. In 1786? Do you know that the Treaty was a failure as products exported by Britain to France were sold at low prices leading to bankruptcies? Do you know that the 20 year Franco-British war led to a return to protectionism? Do you know that Britain came up with Corn Law as trade protectionism to protect British agriculture from imported foreign grain to keep prices high and push up the workers’ wages? Are you aware that the Law of Comparative Advantage by Ricardo assisted to launch the idea of free trade again? Are you aware that the Cobden-Chevalier Treaty abolished all British prohibitions to French imports, and France for its part reduced its customs tariffs to an average of 15% of the value of its products? Do you know that free trade led to the Great Depression of 1873-1896?
Do you know that Donald Trump may not be wrong after all in his protectionist agenda? Do you know that under Britain, America was denied the use of tariffs to protect its industries? Are you aware that the American Revolution was, to a certain extent, a revolt against this British policy? Do you know that tarif became an issue in 1788 on the take-off of the American Constitution? Do you know that after independence, the Tariff Act of 4th July, 1789 was the second Republic Bill signed by President Washington allowing Congress to impose a fixed tariff of 5% on all imports? Do you know that between 1792 and 1812 of the Anglo-American War, all tariffs were doubled to 25% in order to meet the cost of the war? Do you know that the war interrupted imports from Britain and the rest of Europe to promote local manufacturing? Are you aware of the open secret why the United States of America, a former colony of Britain, overtook Britain in development trajectory till today? Do you know that it only came from a preference of trade policy between protectionism and free trade? You care for more? Enjoy this time out, please.
Do you know that, out of economic ecstacy, Britain had its tariffs reduced in 1833? Do you know that Britain had its Corn Law repealed in 1846? What were the results? There was free trade in food. These made imported food cheaper and local production by rural farmers became more expensive and unrewarding. This devastated Britain’s old rural economy. Equally, Britain abolished tariffs on many manufactured goods. As free trade progressed in the United Kingdom, protectionism continued on the continent. And other places. Contrary to the predictions of British economists, the United States emerged from the Civil War plaguing it, with more protectionist tendencies. Equally, Germany under Bismarck embraced protectionism in 1879, and the rest of Europe followed. During the 1880s and 1890s, tariffs went up in Sweden, Italy, France, Austria-Hungary and Spain, leaving Britain alone in the saddle of free trade. Do you know that from the 1870s onwards, the British economy continued to grow, but inexorably lagging behind the United States and Germany, which continued to be protectionist?
Are you aware that between 1870s and 1880s, the United States was Europe’s largest supplier of cereals? Do you know that during this period, there was an increasing trade imbalance between Europe and the United States until the 1900s owing to the fact that the United States had higher tariffs? Why? It was simply because in the early 1860s, Europe and the United States pursued completely different trade policies. During the period of 1860s, the United States pursued protectionism while the European free trade phase lasted from 1860 to 1892. Do you know that the tariff average rate on imports of manufactured goods was in 1875 from 40% to 50% in the United States against 9% to 12% in continental Europe at the height of free trade? Do you know that this made the United States to experience a period of strong growth and prosperity while Europe including Britain, was in the midst of a choking economic depression? Do you know that by 1870, Europe’s trade deficit with America represented 5% to 6% of the region’s imports, reaching an all-time high of 32% in 1890 and 59% around 1900? Do you know that the policy differential made the whole of Europe including Britain to lose its economic prominence to the United States of America? Do you now see that protectionism has always been working for the United States? Can you now see that Donald Trump is not a mad man as you think for pursuing a policy that has been working for his country? Do you know that other some other European leaders had taken that same road before Trump? You care to know? Come along.
Do you know that it is a normal conservative Republican tradition in the United States to keep the tariffs high? Do you know that it is a normal Democrats tradition in the United States to keep tariffs low? Do you know that most American intellectuals and politicians do not believe that the free trade theory advocated by British classical economists was suitable to America? Are you aware that Abraham Lincoln raised industrial tariffs during and after the war to encourage rapid industrialisation and protect the high American wage rates? Do you know that the Republicans prioritize the protection function, while the need to provide revenue to the federal budget is only a secondary objective? Do you know that the Democrats call for low tariffs had always been failing until 1913? Henry Clay interludes: “Give us a protective tariff, and we will have the greatest nation on earth”
Can you see that the 1860- 1892 period of growing protectionism in the United States made it to overtake European industries and that high tariffs made the United States into a great industrial power over Britain and other countries in Europe? Do you know that there is nothing unusual with what Donald Trump is doing with his economic policy with China leading to the current trade impasse? Are you aware that the Bush administration implemented tariffs on Chinese steel in 2002? Do you know that the Obama administration implemented tariffs on Chinese tyres between 2009 and 2012 as an anti-dumping measure?
Do you know that the idea of free trade imposed on the third world countries by the developed world is one of the reasons of poverty of the third world nations? Do you know that trade liberalisation recommended to us by the IMF has never worked anywhere to protect the local industries? Are you aware that before independence, the Latin American countries were under the domination of Spain and Portugal? Do you know that Britain assisted these countries to gain political independence in the 19th century mostly between 1804 and 1822? Do you know that Britain only infected these countries with trade liberalization by signing with them many trade treaties that opened the markets of these countries to British and European manufactured goods, which eventually led to a phase of de-industrialization in these countries?
Are you aware that Russia adopted more protectionist trade measures in 2013 than any other country? Do you know that it introduced 20% of protectionist measures worldwide and one-third of measures in the G20 countries? Do you know that Russia’s protectionist policies include tariff measures, import restrictions, sanitary measures, and direct subsidies to local companies through direct support of the State to several economic sectors such as Agriculture, Space, Automotive industry, electronics, Chemistry, and energy? Do you know that Russia’s recent policy of import substitution increased its domestic production and save several billion dollars of its foreign reserves? Do you know that Russia has been able to reduce its food imports from $60 billion in 2014 to $20 billion in 2017? Do you know that we need those who understand the issues to serve with President Buhari now?
Do you know that from 2017, as part of the promotion of its “Made in India” programme, India has been able to stimulate and protect domestic manufacturing industry and to combat current account deficits? Do you know that protectionism is a campaign against dumping practices? Do you know that there are various types of dumping? We have monetary dumping, tax dumping, social dumping and environmental dumping. Do you know that monetary dumping occurs when a currency undergoes a devaluation as authorities intervene in the foreign exchange market to lower the value of the currency against other currencies to make local products more competitive and imported products more expensive? Do you know that tax dumping makes a country to create tax haven by lowering corporate and personal tax rates? Do you know that social dumping occurs when a country reduces social contributions or maintains very low social standards by making labour regulations less restrictive for employers than elsewhere? Are you aware that environmental dumping occurs in a country when environmental regulations are less stringent than elsewhere? Do you know what is called trade deficits? Do you know that it occurs when a country buys too much foreign goods and too few domestic products? Do you know that according to Keynesian theory, trade deficits are harmful, and that countries that import more than they export weaken their economies? Do you know that as the trade deficit increases, unemployment and poverty increase and GDP slows down? Do you know that surplus countries get richer at the expense of deficit countries? Do you know that Keynes recommended that surplus countries should be taxed to avoid trade imbalances and that the tariff must be used to equalize the trade balance in order to protect domestic workers? Do you now see that a high tarriff on foreign product is an expansionary policy, like a devaluation as it diverts demand from foreign to home producers?
Do you know what is popularly called the Keynes Plan, an International Clearing Union that creates additional ‘international money that treats debtor and creditor alike as disturbers of equilibrium in order to eliminate trade imbalances? Do you know that trade imbalance is a stab in the back for peace and prosperity of the weak nations? Have you asked why we are having Arab Spring? Have you queried why we are having human trafficking? Have you asked why we are having banditry, kidnapping and new forms of terror in weak and poor nations including xenophobia in South Africa? Do you know that they are all effects of the trade imbalances?
Have you asked why Nigerians cannot feed itself? Have you not wondered why we have to import pencils, eraser, crayon, exercise books, rulers, toilet rolls, tooth-pick, fairly-used pants and bra, fairly-used socks and shoes, fairly-used tooth-brushes, juice, rice and other grains, pepper and plantain, apple, garbage, stock-fish, iced turkey and chicken preserved with toxic formalin? Have you wondered while Nigerians have to import fairly used refrigerators, television sets, stereo sets despite the fact that they are aware that they are no longer health-friendly? Do you know it is just the idea of free trade taken too far? Have you not wondered why we have to celebrate our happiness with imported lace materials when our textile factories are closing down for lack of patronage? Do you know that all these are products of trade deficit and de-industrialisation thus leading to IMF-induced dumping in all its facets? Do you know that trade deficit leads to a reduction in innovation and leads to wage stagnation? Do you know that trade deficit creates debt crisis? Do you remember the effects of wage deflation which led to an insolvency crisis or financial crisis of the vast majority of households experienced in the United States, the United Kingdom and Spain and other parts of the world?
Do you know that the establishment of protectionist measures such as quotas and tariffs is therefore the essential condition for protecting countries’ domestic markets and increasing wages, that could allow the reconstruction of the internal market on a stable basis, with a significant improvement in the solvency of both households and businesses? Do you know that poor countries including Nigeria have become even poorer since they removed economic protections in the early 1980s through the Structural Adjustment Programme midwived by IMF and the World Bank? Do you know that in the UN Human Development Report 2003, 54 nations were poorer than they were in 1990, thirteen years after? Do you know that during the 1960s and 1970s (protectionist period) the world economy grew much faster than between 1980 and 1999, the period of free trade?
Do you know that by practicing free trade, Africa is less industrialized today than it was four decades ago? Do you know that free trade policies have caused economic depression in sub-Saharan Africa? Do you know that in the 1970s, Africa accounted for more than 3% of world manufacturing output, and now accounts for 1.5%? Do you know that right now, some African countries such as Ethiopia, and Rwanda have abandoned free trade and adopted a “developmental state model”, a model that is industrializing by regulating their economies and promoting their own manufacturing industries? Then, do you ask: What is a trade War? Come along, please.
A trade war is the concept of protectionism, where tariffs are levied on imports by countries to make locally made products cheaper than imported ones; thereby encouraging consumers to buy home-made products. Can you say now that this is a bad idea, taking into consideration what it has achieved for the United States of America? Do you know that Donald Trump campaigned for election on a promise to make trade fairer for the United States? Do you know that China has accused the US of launching the “largest trade war in economic history.? Do you know that Trump has imposed taxes on imports from China, Mexico, Canada and the EU, to encourage consumers to buy American products? Do you know that all of these countries have retaliated? Do you know that President Donald Trump has followed his position up by withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade Pact (TPP) last year? Do you know that Trump is only implementing his campaign manifesto and the country is witnessing high rate of employment and prosperity? Who is afraid of Trump for fulfilling the manifesto of his party?
The current U.S-China trade war began in March 2018, when the United State’s President, Donald Trump, announced general tariffs of 25% on imported steel and 10% on imported aluminium. According to Trump, the decision to impose such a general tariff was to help reduce the US’s trade deficit from China, which has been described as detrimental to the US steel and aluminium industries. It was also revealed that more than 90% of the 5.5 million tonnes of aluminium used in the United States was imported. As at 2017, the U.S. exports to China amounted to approximately $185 billion. On the other, China constituted U.S. largest supplier of imported goods worth more than $500 billion in the same year. To encourage American goods to be patronized, Trump imposed $250 billion worth of tariff on Chinese goods to correct trade imbalance. Despite the $250 billion on Chinese goods entering the U.S, President Trump has also threatened tariffs on another $267 billion worth of goods. The US has also put tariffs on worldwide imports of goods like steel and washing machines, which further affects products from China.
China retaliated with $160 billion tariff on US goods, Also, in 2018, exports to the U.S. rose by 11.3% while imports from the U.S. to China rose by 0.7 percent over the same period. China’s surplus with the U.S. grew by 17% from a year ago to hit $323.32 billion in 2018. As US-China Trade War rages on, China’s exports rose back in January, 2019 due to a surge in exports to the European Union and Southeast Asia. Export rose by 9.1%. Do you know that it is patriotic enough for Trump to pursue this policy for the United States as it will promote more industrialization, employment and general prosperity? Do you know that it will not affect China as it has threshold population to sustain its market? Do you know the victims? The victims of the war would be the weak countries of Africa who are weakened in the global supply chains. Do you know that we can benefit from the situation if we can play the game by being friendly with the two warring giants?
Have you noticed of recent the Chinese policy of using Chinese banks to issue grants to developing economies, a grant deliberately designed to capitalise on their global financial infrastructure to rival the IMF and the World Bank? Do you know that the tussle between the US and China may not just be a Trade War, but a war over who controls the world’s financial flows in the long term? Do you know that the western press has labelled China of trapping developing economies like Nigeria with loans? Do you know that China has dispelled this rumour by tripling its offerings of interest-free loans and grants to Africa to dispel such threat? Do you know that in a bid for China to cement romance with Africa, it has offered $15 billion assistance to Africa, with about $60 billion aid package pledged to the continent? Do you know that Africa may be regarded as the new bride for the developed economies? Do you know that China-African trade increased to $170 billion in 2017 and in the predictions of UN Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) recently, it is held that in the aftermath of the on-going trade war, Africa would be an enticing destination for these foreign goods. Do you know that this approach has the tendency to bring de-industrialisation, unemployment, poverty and death of innovations? Do you know that this is the time for African countries to show where they are on protectionism as espoused by Ethiopia? We must ask: Can we continue to be a dependent nation for life? If we say: Africa will rise! When?
Do you know that Nigeria’s highest import, which also came from China, is estimated at N900 billion for 2018? Are you aware that some Nigerians were critical of the country’s $5 billion China loan obtained by Nigeria? Do you know that we need to shine our eyes as not all that glitters is gold? Do you know that we may kill Nigeria permanently if we open all our borders to all the things China will be giving to us? Do you know that we must guide against dumping which is already happening? Do you know that we have to check all the job contents of the Foreign Direct Investment coming now from China and stick to proper Environmental Impact Assessment analysis so as not to compromise bio-diversity and national interest? We must guide against the greed of gain in our relationship with these super powers. .
Do you know that we should not give up the current momentum to make Nigeria be self-sufficient in food production, improving energy, railway, investing heavily in security, health and education? As the trade war rages on, this is the time to increase the value-chain in agriculture within the context of the African Growth and Opportunities Act. This is the time to promote extractive industries. This is the time to promote tourism. This is the time to promote local intellectual property. This is the time to promote sports. This is the time to promote the ideal of service that will project to the world that we are capable of ruling ourselves. The question is: Who is Afraid of Donald Trump? Definitely, not Nigerians! Definitely, not our leaders! The words of Captain John Good in the book “King Solomon’s Mines” by Charles Dickens resume: ”Strike a light to show me where you are”.