«America first, buy American». The day after Donald Trump took office at the White House, the rallying cry of his presidential campaign turned into the first concrete measure: Us out of Ttp, the Trans-Pacific Partnership Trade deal with 11 emerging countries of the Pacific Area, such Chile, New Zealand, Singapore, Australia, Canada, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, Peru, Vietnam and Brunei.
The aim of the new American president is to protect employment in the States, in order for Us companies not to delocalize their plants and operations abroad, where labor is cheaper.
The Ttp is the first treaty to fall under Trump’s ax. The next will definitely be Nafta, the agreement between Canada and Mexico that the new American administration is going to renegotiate as soon as possible.
At this pace, it is pretty clear that also the Ttip, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership between Europe and the United States is doomed to fail. It was already lagging behind among a multitude of problems and resistance in Europe, but now it can definitely be considered as dead.
Is this the end of large-scale trade agreements that had marked the age of globalization and the return to bilateral agreements between countries? It seems so. So much so that some countries that were left without Ttp, like Australia, New Zealand and Japan, are already working to sign an agreement among their large trade areas.
In a nutshell, a return to bilateralism after the age of multilateralism, with all the consequences that this entails. As to fruit and vegetables, the Ttp would definitely have benefitted some countries that are already exporting, like Chile, Peru and New Zealand which hoped new markets would be open for them.
If America is to bring up its drawbridge and shuts itself away into a golden isolationism/protectionism («America first!»), the path for our fruit and vegetables towards foreign markets is expected to become more and more difficult and bumpy. We are not well trained for bilateral agreements and we often lose (let’s take Poland, for instance, that managed to bring its apples to China, whereas we have been talking about it for years…).
Europe is playing very defensively for the opening of new markets, so we have to get by. We shall focus on the domestic market, where it is necessary to try and boost consumption through real and effective promotional activities and not through the ordinary refrain “fruit and vegetables are healthy”, which has clearly proved to be ineffective so far. We shall call on politicians and institutions to wake up and keep their promises, giving concrete signals to the fruit and vegetables sector, by integrating it into internationalization programs/projects, like wine and other made-in-Italy leading products.
We shall hope that the new feeling between Trump and Putin will lead the Kremlin to lift the embargo (if Europe lifts the sanctions). We shall work on China – even though it is not that easy – as it is always worth trying, considering the potential of that market.
This is the agenda that the Italian fruit and vegetables representatives shall set. A “control room” would be needed more than ever before, since everything has become more difficult in the Trump era. However, if we do not have it, oh well! We will go on this way with our inflamed individualism. It has worked so far, more or less.
Cloudy skies loom overhead. What are the solutions to this trend?
Frassoldati reels off some of them. It is up to entrepreneurs and institutions to be eager and capable to seize them or pasta makers – as well as fruit and vegetables operators – will go on as they have always done: individually.
The editorial staff