Waiting for Free Trade

By Richard Telofski , Contributor, US Daily Review

Waiting for free trade with China.

Doesn’t that idea sound a bit like the premise of the play “Waiting for Godot?” In that mid-twentieth century play by Samuel Beckett, we have the two main characters, Vladimir and Estragon, who wait at the side of a country road, near a tree, anticipating the arrival of someone name Godot. Throughout the scenes of this two act play, secondary characters arrive informing Vladimir and Estragon that Godot is not coming. Neither Vladimir or Estragon makes an effort to seek Godot. They simply remain hopeful, passively waiting by the tree, that Godot will appear.

This banal monotony continues though to the last scene when Vladimir and Estragon agree that Godot will likely not show and assent to leave the tree by which they have been waiting. Yet, when the final curtain falls neither character has left the tree or the stage.

Free trade with China is the Godot of modern international commerce. It is not going to arrive, certainly not by waiting and hoping. Many who have written on the subject, like the secondary characters of “Waiting,” have observed the hopelessness of the waiting without the application of effort.

Our American politicians, both sides of the aisle, are somewhat like Vladimir and Estragon. Democrats and Republicans alike expect free trade with China to occur, yet none have actually taken much action to make this hope a reality. I’ve been hearing their promises for decades now. And yet Godot hasn’t arrived.

To quote Hillary Clinton, “hope is not a strategy.” (I usually do not invoke Hillary Clinton, however in this case her observation fits perfectly.)

Oh yes, we have heard of promised actions intended to drag China onto a more level playing field (they are not going to go willingly). These promises, no surprise, usually increase during election season. Stand by for a plethora of them this coming summer and early fall.

Yet, we see no fruition of the promises. Our own partisan Vladimirs and Estragons, like those in the play, remain on stage, near the tree, convinced their own unfulfilled and continuing promises will somehow become reality, seeing the Godot of free trade appear.

But Godot does not appear. And the Democrat and Republican Vladimirs and Estragons remain near the tree while the curtain comes down on our economy.

Free trade with China, like Godot, is not coming, at least not until Chinese hegemony passes their own wildest dreams. The signs are there. But the Democrats and Republicans remain on stage, near the tree.

We need Godot to arrive because our economy has been ravaged by the unfair trade practices of this economic leviathan.

Witness the damage:

  • Chinese manipulation of their own currency keeps their currency cheap, relative to foreign exchange, and with it makes Chinese products among the least expensive on planet.
  • For foreign companies to gain entry to Chinese domestic markets they are first required to turn over their technology to Chinese state owned enterprises (SOEs). That the Chinese do not study the extorted intellectual property and leverage it to their own advantage is simply naive and wishful thinking.
  • Rather than purchasing high technology from foreign firms, after China extorts technology secrets as a price of business entry into their country, China directs its SOEs to purchase high technology from only from Chinese companies, so that further technological development can be fueled nationally with the benefits there of kept within its borders.
  • Control of half of the globe’s rare earth minerals, used to make high technology devices.
  • And of course piracy and copyright infringement which the Chinese assure world leaders is taken seriously, but yet appears to be dealt with via the wink and a nod approach.

Free trade with China is not coming.

Why would it? China has been doing so well with Vladimir and Estragon remaining by the tree. “All things come to he who waits?” No, time is not on our side. Despite recent news reports that China is desirous of a free trade agreement, experts expect that such an agreement would require about ten years to negotiate. Remember. The Chinese regard time in generations, not in months or even years.

Imagine how many more American dollars would be captured into the coffers of China during that decade. Imagine how China would use those dollars. For more technology extortion, for more economic control, for more military power financed, for more deals with foreign nations sealed via favorable terms guaranteed by Beijing.

Free trade with China is not coming.

Be sure your Vladimirs and Estragons in Congress know how you feel. And that, when Election Day rolls around, you will remember their lingering by the tree.


Richard Telofski is a competitive strategy and intelligence analyst. Formerly the president of one of the first competitive intelligence consultancies, Richard currently practices at The Kahuna Institute where he studies the effects upon business of non-traditional competitors. He blogs about “The War on Capitalism” at www.Telofski.com.

All opinions expressed on USDR are those of the author and not necessarily those of US Daily Review.

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