The International Institute of Tropical Agriculture (IITA) was recently granted a permit to carry out confined field trials (CFT) on genetically modified cassava (AMY3 RNAi transgenic lines). This research, carried out in collaboration with ETHZ Plant Biotechnology Lab in Zurich, aims to reduce starch breakdown in storage roots of cassava after pruning the shoots, prior to harvest of the crop. The objective is to obtain storage roots with lower postharvest physiological degradation without any loss of the nutritious starch.
Cassava (Manihot esculenta Crantz) is an important starchy food crop in sub-Saharan Africa as well as other tropical and subtropical regions. However, one of the challenges faced by cassava farmers is the high level of postharvest loss caused by rapid deterioration of the starch-rich roots which occurs naturally after harvesting. Although postharvest deterioration can be reduced by pruning the shoots of cassava plants without unearthing the roots, this poses a problem as the desirable starch stored in the root can be degraded by the plant after pruning, which in turn lowers the harvest yield and root quality.
To address this, a research project was conceived at ETH Zurich where cassava plants using cultivar 60444 were generated using RNAi as the tool to reduce starch breakdown in the root after pruning of the shoots. Extensive testing was carried out in greenhouses in Switzerland, where the plants were grown for three consecutive years.
“Our greenhouse experiments were an important first step, but they cannot substitute for genuine field conditions,” said Prof Samuel C. Zeeman of ETH Zurich. “Hence, it is necessary to grow the plants in a tropical climate such as that of Nigeria. IITA is an excellently equipped and well-staffed institute at which to perform such a confined field trial.”
The CFT permit was issued by the National Biosafety Management Agency in accordance with the National Biosafety Agency Act 2015 and is for the period 22 September 2017 to 31 December 2018. IITA adheres strictly to national and international biosafety standards and will ensure that these are enforced during the trials, which will be carried out within the IITA campus in Ibadan.
The research is a fact-gathering process to gain fundamental knowledge about starch metabolism in the storage root and about cassava as a crop. The cassava plants from the confined field trial are not destined for the market nor for commercial development and therefore will not be consumed. And according to national regulations, all plants will be destroyed within the CFT site after analysis.
As part of the experiment, regrowth of stem cuttings from the plants will also be assessed, since regrowth may also depend on starch stored in the stem. This is important since cassava is normally propagated by stem cuttings and not by seed.
The primary beneficiaries of the knowledge gained from this research (and its eventual application for cassava improvement) would be cassava farmers in Nigeria and other regions.
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In the Solomon Islands, discussions and decisions on managing local fisheries mostly involve men, who are typically the elders and hold the leadership positions in communities. Yet research from across the world shows that broad community involvement and commitment is critical for equitable fisheries management.
A key challenge is to arrive at a model of community management of natural resources that integrates the voices of all community members, including youth, while also respecting traditional social hierarchy.
In the Solomon Islands, fish and fishing is important as a source of food and income and is integrated into the way of life of households and communities. Youth participate in fisheries by fishing from shore or from canoes, diving to gather invertebrates and to Spearfish, and helping to clean and prepare to catch for sale or for consumption – all of which are important contributions to the collective activities of a rural and coastal community.
Yet the strong cultural hierarchy in many rural and coastal communities limits the extent that youth can participate in discussions on fisheries governance. Respect for community chiefs, elders, religious leaders and resource owners as the decision makers sometimes restrains the ability that youth have to contribute ideas. This can mean that youth become disenfranchised, resulting in many being uninvolved and even unaware of such deliberations. The trend for youth to move away from rural communities to bigger urban centers adds to the challenge.
Encouraging the greater involvement all individuals, including youth, in fisheries management has been a focus of efforts by WorldFish in partnership with the Ministry of Fisheries and Marine Resources to test, refine and promote community-based resource management (CBRM) in the Solomon Islands since 2005.
The CBRM approach involves local communities managing natural resources in partnership with government bodies and civil society groups through such mechanisms as discussing customary access rights, sharing contemporary scientific and local knowledge about marine environments and fish ecology, promoting sustainable harvesting and practicing enforcement. This approach resonates well in the Solomon Islands, where, because of customary marine tenure, communities have always managed their local fisheries with little intervention from government authorities.
To ensure CBRM initiatives reach and involve youth, WorldFish has partnered with the regional organization Pacific Community (SPC) to run workshops on CBRM specifically targeted toward youth. Since November 2016, three youth-targeted trainings have been held involving 47 young people.
The three-day training empowers youth to increase their knowledge and confidence so as to allow them to get actively involved in, and even lead, marine resource management in their communities. It encourages young people to open up, interact and share ideas on tackling fisheries issues and solutions in their own communities. By giving them the opportunity to recognize their capabilities, youth understand that they can contribute to resource management programs, and affect a range of decisions that impact upon the future of their communities.
The gaining of basic marine biology knowledge and a deeper understanding of the interconnection of the marine environment to us humans was an evident impact of the training. With this new knowledge, youths discussed ways that they would be able to better manage community resources and work together to improve their management when they returned home. To capture these ideas, the youths drew up action plans that outlined activities such as holding awareness talks to carry out on their return to their communities.
In the Solomon Islands, we are all resource users that depend on fisheries for food and income. If we don’t all participate in managing our natural resources and protecting our environment, then we can’t ensure the continued benefits of fisheries for the people who depend on them. Appreciating our youth and recognizing them as agents of change in our communities is therefore critical to achieving sustainable outcomes from CBRM initiatives.
Faye Aborina Siota
Faye Aborina Siota has been working for WorldFish as a Research Analyst since 2012. She has been involved in research on community-based resource management (CBRM), nearshore fish aggregating devices (FADs) and most recently, on food and nutrition in rural communities. She believes in community empowerment and the strength-based approach.
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Pauline Chivenge and Sheetal Sharma | Dec 11, 2017 « PREVIOUS
Specific fertilizer recommendations in smallholder rice farming systems could increase crop production while reducing pollution and greenhouse gas emissions.
Rice production relies on the use of synthetic fertilizers, especially nitrogen, in order to meet the challenge of rising demand for the commodity driven by population growth. However, the nutrient needs of rice crops are not constant and can vary with fields, seasons, and years because of differences in crop-growing conditions and management. Consequently, the proper management of nutrients for rice production needs to be adjusted to suit field and crop requirements.
Furthermore, the application of external nutrients constitutes the second most expensive rice production input, after labor. As a result, nutrient management is an important component for sustainable rice production while protecting the environment.
Too much of a good thing
The Green Revolution in the mid-20th century resulted in increased crop yields, including rice, in the developing world. Much of this was due to a combination of the introduction of improved varieties and more reliance on the use of synthetic fertilizers, herbicides, and pesticides. However, although the Green Revolution was undoubtedly beneficial in improving food security, it was also associated with a dramatic increase in pollution due to the high use of agricultural chemicals.
Fertilizer recommendations in smallholder rice farming systems are often given as blanket recommendations, but this can lead to the overuse of fertilizers and inefficient use of nutrients. This created a need to find approaches to increase crop production while reducing pollution.
Soil testing has been promoted to estimate location-specific fertilizer requirements based on the measurement of soil nutrient pools for a field or location. Soil-test methods attempt to measure the proportions of nutrients available for crops, but the amount measured may differ across soils with contrasting properties. Additionally, different tests for one nutrient often provide different results that can be expressed in a variety of ways.
Therefore, soil-test methods need to be calibrated to be used in a specific region. Soil testing requires rapid sequential sampling of soil, laboratory analysis, and timely deployment of a fertilizer recommendation with training for farmers before crop establishment. The effective implementation across hundreds of thousands of fields has been constrained by the high costs involved in sampling and analysis.
In developed countries, precision nutrient management is done using sophisticated technology to monitor variations in nutrient levels within large fields and across seasons. But, this is not applicable for small fields in Asia and Africa.
The site-specific nutrient management (SSNM) approach was developed in the 1990s to enable rice farmers to apply fertilizers and efficiently meet varying nutrient requirements of plants, thereby reducing fertilizer misuse associated with fertilizer subsidy.
The approach is used to calculate field-specific requirements for fertilizer nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for cereal crops based on scientific principles with the aim to increase nutrient-use efficiency. SSNM has improved rice yields compared with the farmers’ practice often based on blanket recommendations.
Timing is everything
The SSNM approach, however, does not aim to increase or reduce the amount of fertilizer used. The increase in grain yield with lower amounts of fertilizer has been associated with the better timing of application, particularly for nitrogen. Farmers apply a greater proportion of the nitrogen fertilizer in the early stages of the crop, causing higher vigor during early growth, which does not translate into higher grain yield at maturity.
In recent years, SSNM has been identified as one of the options for sustainable intensification of rice production in Asia and as a climate-smart technology for increasing resource-use efficiency while reducing greenhouse gas emissions and nutrient runoff into water sources.
The SSNM approach relies heavily on information generated from nutrient omission plot trials that are used to estimate fertilizer requirements for major nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium). Briefly, nutrient omission plots are small field trials in which adequate nutrients—except the nutrient of interest—are applied to a plot in order to estimate the supply of the omitted nutrient from indigenous sources such as soil, crop residues, irrigation water, biological nitrogen fixation, and atmospheric deposition. This is used to calculate the amount of fertilizer required to achieve a given yield target.
Phosphorus and potassium are generally applied at sowing or transplanting while nitrogen is applied at different crop stages. Thirty percent of the nitrogen is applied at transplanting and the rest is equally split at critical rice growth stages: active tillering and panicle initiation. Alternatively, the nitrogen splits can be determined using leaf color charts.
Rice production in Asia is largely done by smallholder farmers who often lack access to information. For sustainability, there is a need to develop tools that are accessible to farmers. Using the principles of SSNM, an information and communication technology decision support tool, Nutrient Manager, was developed to give field-specific fertilizer recommendations for smallholder farmers.
Nutrient Manager targets irrigated and rainfed lowland rice farmers with the aim to increase productivity and net income by USD 100 per hectare per season at the farm level. The tool has been widely tested and used in the Philippines, India, Bangladesh, and Vietnam, and has led to an increase in farm productivity and profitability. The tool was later developed into the Rice Crop Manager in the Philippines and India, which give climate-informed agro-advisory services to farmers, including the selection of suitable varieties. (See An app tailor-made for India’s rice farmers.)
Although the tool has effectively improved productivity in 80% of the locations where it has been tried, there is room to expand the fertilizer recommendations for a wider set of conditions. Additionally, dissemination of the tool needs to be boosted to give more rice farmers access to smarter and more sustainable fertilizer management.
_______________________ Dr. Chivenge is a soils and biogeochemistry expert at the International Rice Research Institute (IRRI). Dr. Sharma leads IRRI’s research on the design, evaluation, and dissemination of soil and nutrient management technologies for the rice-based systems of South Asia.
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Without policy change, these countries risk falling short of achieving sustainable development by 2030, UN report warns
11 December 2017, Geneva/Rome – Without a renewed commitment to policy change, commodity-dependent developing countries (CDDCs) are by 2030 set to lag behind countries with more diverse economies in their social and economic achievements, UNCTAD and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said in a report issued today.
The Commodities and Development Report 2017 argue this is a likely scenario given that global food and non-food commodity prices – with the exception of oil – are expected to remain at their 2010 levels. They may even increase slightly in the years leading to 2030 – the target date for the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) agreed by the international community in 2015. However, the report notes that these global price patterns may diverge once broken down at the regional and national levels.
The 2003-2011 commodity price boom drove up export revenues and, generally, economic growth rates for many CDDCs, but this trend has either slowed down or has been reversed since global commodity prices stabilized at a lower level, the report notes.
This, in turn, has brought to light the importance of investing in human capital and social protection as well as of redistributive policies, considering that strong overall economic growth alone does not necessarily translate into poverty reduction and food security achievements.
The report stresses the need for CDDCs to pursue structural transformation to improve their social and economic prospects, reduce poverty, realize food security and achieve the SDGs at large.
To support its policy recommendations, the report reviews policies pursued by several countries and their respective socio-economic impacts. The case studies cover such commodities in producing countries as soybeans in Argentina and Brazil, rice in Bangladesh, diamonds in Botswana and Sierra Leone, cotton in Burkina Faso, coffee and bananas in Costa Rica, cocoa in Ghana, nickel in Indonesia, sorghum in Mali, oil in Nigeria, and copper in Zambia.
According to the report, policies that can promote inclusive growth over the next 15 years include economic diversification, expanding the linkages between the commodity sector and the national economy, adopting counter-cyclical expenditure policies which build commodity revenue buffers during price upswings to use them during downswings, adding value to raw commodities, and investing in social protection, health and education.
CDDCs will require more policy space in order to tailor the right policy mix to fit their economic conditions and circumstances and drive their sustainable economic development in an increasingly globalized world.
Ultimately, the structural transformation should result in the successful implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, of which the SDGs are the core, the report concludes.
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In the early morning at Dadar station in metropolitan Mumbai, a common sight is unloading of tons of jasmine and marigold flowers packed in jute sacks. Flowers come from Jawhar block located in the district of Palghar in Maharashtra. At the village the flowers are procured from each producer, weighed and packed in jute sacks. These are collected from the village bus stands and transported to Dadar in Mumbai by either bus or train. Floriculture has emerged as an alternative source of livelihood for small and marginal farmers in the region. Collective marketing has allowed small producers to aggregate and sell their flowers. Aggregation has enabled producers to realize better incomes through collective bargaining. About 3,500 women farmers have been mobilized as producer groups, and their annual turnover is expected to be around US $ 1 million in the next season.
Similarly, in four tribal districts (Koraput, Rayagada Gajapati and Mayurbhanj) of Orissa in the eastern part of India, 6,300 women mango producers have been organized to facilitate creation of a Producers’ Company with annual turnover of US $260,000. They planted high-quality mango trees in their land with the help of Government’s horticulture department. They were provided training on pre-harvest, post-harvest management & market information and price discovery. The producer company was able to do local value addition through grading, sorting, packaging and loading through trucks. The producer company has been able to sell products to wholesale and high value channels like retail outlets and have become aggregators for large food retailers and companies. The producer company has helped the members to realize additional income of US $800 for each household.
Many such enterprise clusters have been catalyzed as part of National Rural Livelihood Mission (NRLM) in 30 states in India. The program so far has mobilized more than 45 million women from deprived and poor households and covers more than 40% of rural India. Women meet regularly within their self-help groups to save and inter-loan money to each other; represent their self-help groups in the village and cluster-level organizations to work on collective economic action and deliver financial and economic services to members. Based on their savings and lending track record, the members of self-help groups have become clients of commercial banks and borrow from banks to launch businesses and enterprises of their own. They are also provided extension and skills based training to expand their livelihoods. They have also initiated producer organizations and companies to start higher level economic enterprises. Over last six years women have formed 3.2 million self-help groups and 145,465 village-level organizations. Collectively they have saved US $1.4 billion and leveraged US $ 20 billion from commercial banks.
NRLM has emerged as the flagship program for women’s economic empowerment in Government of India. The World Bank funded National Rural Livelihoods Project (NRLP) has provided support to Ministry of Rural Development, in Government of India to set up professional architecture and systems for implementation of NRLM. The project aims at establishing efficient and effective institutional platforms of the rural poor that enables them to increase household income through sustainable livelihood enhancements and improved access to financial and selected public services.
The project has been a site for rich experimentation and innovation, particularly, in addressing challenges common to other development projects: How, for instance, do we efficiently scale and expand a community-led project? How can we bring in innovation and social enterprises into the work of a large-scale government program? And finally, how do we retain and grow human resources within government organizations?
Some of the key innovations in project implementation and scaling up is harnessing community level social capital from all over the country to develop peer learning and extension networks among communities. Community Resource Persons have been a crucial resource for scaling the project across, low-income states in India. Nearly 20,000 rural women, who have successfully come out of poverty, serve as Community Resource Persons. These “poverty-reduction champions” travel outside their villages and to other states to identify the poorest households, using participatory methods. Community Resource Persons train new self-help groups on various sub sectors like financial inclusion, microcredit, agriculture, horticulture, dairy, poultry, and fishery. Through these programs, new women members learn about potential livelihoods opportunities and pathways to take them out of poverty. They use Information Communication Technology (ICT) for providing extension services to members through creating local content and creation of short videos highlighting both internal and external best practices. Video content typically consists of technical demonstrations customized after local experimentation, discussions, or success stories of best practices. After content generation, the existing social networks are used for dissemination.
Through “Innovation Forums”—akin to the World Bank’s Development Marketplace—the project brought together social enterprises, grassroots innovators, private sector players, and the government on a common platform to exchange innovations in health, nutrition, livelihoods, skill development, and energy access. Many of the innovations presented at these forums have gone on to be implemented and scaled through the project. Partnerships between the project, social entrepreneurs and private sector agencies have been an avenue to bring innovation to the government. These private sector agencies have connected rural women to wider domestic markets, and, to larger urban and foreign markets as well.
With the help of the World Bank, in each of the NRLM progressive and agile human resource policies were put in place: from recruiting at India’s leading social science, engineering, development studies and management institutes, providing competitive compensation to staff, to implementing a Young Professionals (YP) program. Through the YP program, over 500 young professionals have been placed in low-income states. Many of these young professionals have gone on to start their own social enterprises, drawing from their experience with the NRLM and with implementing a complex, multi-sectorial community-led program.
In 2017, Government of India is working to expand and deepen the program in two directions. Firstly, it wants to scale up the current program of social and economic mobilization of rural women from 45 million to 87 million ensuring that very women from a deprived household becomes a member of SHG and the related institutional platform. Secondly, it wants to develop 5,000 local economic development clusters across the country to trigger a women enterprise ecosystem throughout the country, especially in low income states and with bottom of pyramid populations. The lessons from these programs are currently being shared in many countries globally through South to South experience sharing and have generated strong interest. The program has demonstrated that designing and implementing a large scale women’s economic empowerment program requires participating women at the center and needs creation of an institutional platform and an enabling ecosystem.
Authors acknowledge contributions by Varun Singh, Vinay Kumar Vutukuru, Debaraj Behera, Anjani Kumar Singh and Paramveer Singh for the case studies, data and pictures.
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If you are an American scientist, student, teacher, or business person working on climate change solutions, France would love for you to stay awhile.
Following President Trump’s June 2 decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement — a multi-country pact that acknowledges global warming poses serious threats to humanity and the environment — the French government has created an outlet for people from all countries who still want to fight climate change.
Researchers, teachers, and students can apply for a four-year grant that allows them to continue their studies or instruction, fully financed. The site also provides information on how to move to France by obtaining a work visa and residency permit.
The website explains: “You will be able to stay in France at least for the duration of the grant, and longer if you are granted a permanent position. There is no restriction on your husband/wife working in France. If you have children, note that French public schools are free, and the tuition fees of universities and ‘grandes écoles’ are very low compared to the American system.”
Businesspeople and heads of NGOs can also apply to receive funding from the federal government, which issues grants to organizations it considers deserving.
Emmanuel Macron won the French presidential election May 7. Since his victory, a video his campaign posted in February has been making the rounds on American social media. The Facebook video was addressed to American climate scientists who feel alienated by the Trump administration. Looking straight into the camera, speaking English, Macron tells American “researchers, entrepreneurs, [and] engineers working on climate change” that they have a home in his country.
“I do know how your new president now has decided to jeopardize your budget, your initiatives, and he is extremely skeptical about climate change,” he said. “I have no doubt about climate change.”
Macron went on to promise robust funding for climate initiatives. In Europe, as a general rule, climate change is less of a political issue, with few major political parties arguing against established science.
Macron’s opponent in the second round of the election, the far-right candidate Marine Le Pen, was a bit of an exception to this rule. Le Pen opposed various environmental initiatives and did not acknowledge outright that humans are the primary cause of climate change.
Rafi Letzter contributed to an earlier version of this article.
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As a nation, we have reached a pivotal point in our history since President Trump took office as the 45th President of the United States. Everything we know about democracy, diplomacy, national security, and foreign policy are sandwiched in an unpredictable president. He keeps his fellow citizens at the edge thinking “what he’s going to do next?” His tweets and retaliatory posts on social media keep their blood flowing curious and eager about whom he’s going to blame next or what his next unpredictable actions would be? One can fairly say that this theatrical drama and his undisputed use of social media is, in fact, part of his overall scheme to mislead the American populace.
Overall, the Trump’s presidency has not had a good start and it is highly likely that this administration will not have a happy ending either before the next presidential elections or sooner. It is highly predictable that the American populace will continue to be entertained with what seems to be the largest reality show being staged until the next elections and the events of today will form a critical part of the electoral processes in November 2020. But for now, we will continue to be massaged by Tweets and “Covfefe” from the White House and who knows maybe he might likely response to this article, which will be highly welcomed.
On February 23, 2015, the White House Chief Strategist Stephen K. Bannon and the White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus spoke at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC), during which Bannon said the US Media is “adamantly opposed to” the president’s economic nationalist agenda accusing the media as the main opposition to the Trump’s administration. Bannon emphatically stated that the Trump’s administration is at war with the media and the relationships between this presidency and the corporatist media is not going to get better over time the relationship will get worse. And to be frank, this is happening and it is only happening because of it is part of their plan. It worked during the campaign and it seems to be working during the early phase of his administration.
In that brief interview broadcasted on CNN, Bannon along with Priebus outlined the so-called economic nationalist agenda of the Trump’s presidency in which he (Bannon) highlighted the three pillars of the President’s strategic plan to include national security and sovereignty, economic nationalism, and lastly the deconstruction of the administrative state. To these three pillars of Trump’s economic nationalist agenda, Bannon mentioned that the Trump’s administration will continue to fight with the corporatist globalist media and that fight will get worse each day. This new political order according to Bannon and Priebus is meant to bring economic prosperity to America through the creation of “high paid” jobs. Bannon noted that this will also involve the United States regaining its sovereignty as a nation. It is all going to be America First. It is all going to be to “Make America Great Again” – a campaign promise that Trump used to sweep his way to the White House defeating Hillary Clinton.
Will pulling the US out of several multilateral agreements bring economic prosperity? Can economic nationalism be achieved without pulling the US out of major global treaties making us look and appear like idiots? We are a nation with an economy but should that be an economy with an isolated nation? Can we be a nation that promotes economic nationalism without closing our borders? Trump’s family claims he has a desire to protect the environment but his actions so far distance from their perceptions of what they think he is. There are no “alternative facts” to climate science.
Let us briefly discuss the three so-called pillars of Trump’s economic nationalism agenda and see how that impact our foreign policy.
1. National Security and Sovereignty
There is no question about the importance of both national security and sovereignty. In fact, these two aspects are interrelated and very critical to the very existence of the nation-state. With the rise of extremism and terrorism here and abroad, Trump’s views on immigration and foreign policy seem to be widely informed by what he’s presented by the US media. His executive orders especially the 90 days suspension of admission of refugees and other immigrants from mostly Muslims-dominated countries in North Africa and the Middle East were entirely unguided by sound critical judgment and lacks the constitutional support.
The issuance of executive orders to ban immigrants including refugees from certain countries without seeking experts’ advice undermined the credibility of the national security he sought to ensure and protect. The idea to take precautionary measures to ensure that national security of all Americans is protected is our constitutional right. However, the manner in which the President orchestrated the so-called ban on immigrants and refugees from mostly Muslim-dominated countries contributed entirely to his failure to garnered national support from the American populace including its legal systems and the very constitutional basis of the President’s executive orders on immigrants and refugees. You cannot ensure our sovereignty as a nation without ensuring national security because both are intertwined.
This does not mean establishing discriminatory tendencies that would foster and promote disunity, factionalism, and the abuse of human rights. We can engage in multilateral and bilateral trade without infringing on our national security and sovereignty. It has worked in the past and there is no reason it can’t work today. The idea to withdraw the US from major treaties and agreements in hope of redefining our positions at the negotiation tables with other nations and partners when it comes to trade, national security, and sovereignty undermine the very basis of our national heritage as a nation of immigrants. America is a country that respects freedom, justice, liberty, and the rule of Law. Trump’s stands to make America great again by simply renegotiating trade terms that solely meet our conditions and criteria demonstrate to the rest of the world who we are as a nation.
For years, the US has played and continue to play several different roles when it comes to the international stage in the areas of protecting our national security interests abroad. The roles we play abroad with our allies changed in relations to the political landscapes at home. At some point, we played the role as an imperialist state demonstrated by our powerful diplomatic relations and the signatures of our military industrial complex – the appetite and willingness to use military force in instances where the powerhouse of our diplomatic envoys failed to yield favorable results in the name of our national security interests.
With this in mind, we intervened in other countries as both the judge and the executioner of justice and indirectly imposing our protectionist and interventionist mentality in an effort to influence their political and economic systems for the sole purpose of enhancing our national security interests. Has the “America First” economic nationalist doctrine that paved the way for Trump to enter the White House made any significant change about how the world view us?
2. Economic Nationalism
What is economic nationalism really? Is economic nationalism really an economic theory or a political theory meant to cast the blames of our economic failures and shortcomings on foreigners and other countries? Trumpononics is an emerging unconventional term that linked to the current economic nationalism platform of the Trump’s administration and its attitude and approach towards existing and future foreign trade and international treaties and agreements. The Trump’s administration seems to be confused when it comes to the definition of trade. The question that needs to be asked is that in the modern global economy one can argue that countries don’t trade, but rather individuals, businesses, and entities within those countries are the ones that trade. The main reason for this is that governments do not have the capacity and ability to “balance” trade between other countries. Trump argued during both the GOP presidential primaries and the general elections that trade agreements between the US and other nations were “unfair and unbalanced.” He claims that the unfair and unbalance negotiations done in the past administrations had led to the economic disparities in the US and was costing Americans big time.
He cited deals with China, India, Mexico and a bunch of other nations including Canada and the European Union are “very bad, unfair, and unbalanced.” The President even cited trade deficits as an indicator of economic prosperity, but the economists seem to disagree with him. This is because over and over again our trade deficits were lower during periods of economic recession plus the US trade deficit is offset by investments surplus which is directly linked to our ability to attract foreign investors. Adam Smith author of the Wealth of Nations, noted that “nothing, however, can be more absurd than this whole doctrine of the balance of trade, upon which, not only these restraints but almost all the other regulations of commerce are founded.”
Trump has also misunderstood and incorrectly framed international trade as the single most important attribute for the exportation of manufacturing jobs from the US to China and India. A study conducted at the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University in 2017 indicates that about 85% of manufacturing job losses were attributed to technological change. As noted by Adam Smith, the attempt to balance trade between nations will likely result in trade wars because it is impossible. Good luck trying to make trade equal across the board.
The rapid and sudden withdrawal of the US from international trade will not only impact the global economy but will significantly disrupt the US economy and even worse when the current government lacks strategic focus and operational objectives, which will also make the US marketplace and investment favorability less attractive to current and potentials businesses and entities. The use of domestic immigration policies and reforms to restrict the number of immigrants that come to this country is also being used to propagate the economic nationalist tendencies within the US Senate, which argues that immigration harms the current US labor forced because bringing people in this country via our immigration system increases the supply of labor.
Personally, I failed to comprehend the argument that the Trump’s administration is making against immigration because immigration is an integral component of economic growth which is enshrined in our 300 years history as a nation of immigrants. The use of protectionism as a mechanism of economic nationalism is not only a backward gear that Trump is putting this country into, but could be used to promote racial discriminatory policies for the sole purpose of enriching Wall Street Corporatist Banks and the 1%, while everyone else gets left at the margins of societal mayhem.
Along the lines of the US foreign policy, economic nationalism will cause significant disruption to our current allies and global partners which will effectively serve as a barrier for future military and non-military corporations within the global north and south. Trade with other nations especially those involved with companies and businesses that are based in the US will be more challenging and complex and could lead to the collapse of small businesses that outsource workforce. US companies and entities with offices abroad will be impacted by harsh economic constraints and challenges which would, in turn, affect their operations abroad. While some may consider this an opportunity for those companies to relocate to the US and extend their operations at home, their international market landscape would be severely impacted due to Trump’s economic policy.
3. Destruction of the administrative state
Trump’s appointments of his cabinet members speak more into how he intends to deconstruct the administrative state by appointing individuals with no background and experience relevant to the offices appointed to in addition to their disposition when it comes to major issues relevant to their appointed offices. Trump’s strategic positions on national defense and security are well funded, however, at the expense of other equally important issues such as climate change, international trade, etc. It is interesting that he prioritized national security, but in the same token fails to comprehend that climate change is just not a global security threat, but also a national security issue. When a US coastal city is swept away as a result of rising sea levels and terrestrial coastal storms – maybe he will realize that climate security is a paramount component of national security.
The Trump’s administration statement is clear. Yes, I am your president, but I don’t care about what you think and how you feel as long as I keep pleasing my supporters by staging “campaign-like” speeches to reassure them that he is the president of the United States but only for those who supported him. It is one thing to run for the office of president of the United States as a candidate for a political establishment and it is a completely different ball game when you get elected. I don’t think Trump has reached the point where he realizes he’s not just President who is a so-called Republican but is indeed the President of the United States of America.