(MENAFN – Gulf Times) The race over the White House between US President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden has made history even before voting day. More than 91 million people have cast their votes in the weekend before Election Day.
That’s about 43 percent of all registered voters in the country and two-thirds of the total vote tally in the 2016 poll. Never before have so many people cast their ballots early using the incoming ballot to make sure their votes were counted.
Apparently, the Americans believed that the two candidates made the right choice. But can the outcome of this contest be as important as Pakistan’s?
When the Trump administration took office, bilateral relations between Washington and Islamabad were languid. They stayed that way for at least Trump’s first two years in office.
But a reset was in the works at the end of 2018. And in July of the following year, Prime Minister Imran Khan sat in the White House as President Trump praised Pakistan’s efforts to bring peace to Afghanistan and announced its intention to increase bilateral trade by 20 times its current level.
But big talk is fruitless, if any. Obsessed with trimming the runaway U.S. trade deficit, the Trump administration has taken no practical action to increase trade with its trading partners, including Islamabad.
Pakistan’s exports to the US have continued to increase at the same rate for a decade, aid flows to Pakistan have shrunk while imports from the US have continued to increase.
Expected investment flows, such as Exxon Mobil’s return to the domestic market after a two-decade absence, also appear uncertain. The company’s plans for offshore oil and gas exploration stalled and were withdrawn from the LNG terminal project.
What’s more, there isn’t much desire for a deal that breaks doors, at least among Pakistani businesses. The Pakistan Business Council recommended a limited trade deal that could help US soybean farmers and Pakistani textile companies.
The trade body does not support an all-encompassing free trade agreement that it says will open floodgates to imports but does not lead to a proportionate increase in overseas sales for Pakistani businesses.
In short, diplomatic relations have improved greatly in the Trump era but they have not had a major positive impact on economic relations.
Could this trend change significantly if Biden took the lead?
After all, he differs from Trump in a number of policies. Trump lowered taxes for people and companies and wants to extend those cuts from 2025 to 2030.
He has pulled the US out of the Paris Climate Agreement and weakened the World Trade Organization. On the other hand, Biden wants to raise taxes, especially for the rich and says his administration will honor US commitments to climate change.
But the incumbent and the challenger are not very different in their views on foreign trade. President Trump appears much more confrontational with China. His first presidential campaign focused heavily on the scapegoat for Beijing because of the US’s declining competitiveness in manufacturing.
During his tenure, Washington has imposed higher tariffs on Chinese exports worth more than $ 350 billion. The Trump administration is also aiming for Chinese tech giants like Huawei which are pioneers in global 5G technology.
But be tough on China, not just Trump’s doctrine. Biden also showed no intention of being more lenient.
Although he has said he wants to involve US allies in dealing with China, he has made no commitments to cancel US tariffs or other measures against China taken during the Trump era. Biden is also in no rush to sign trade deals or distribute more concessions to trading partners.
He said he would prioritize increasing the competitiveness of domestic companies before signing more international trade deals.
In a recent interview with German magazine Der Spiegel, Prime Minister Imran Khan was asked whom he would prefer to deal with as the next US president. Khan responded by describing the similarities between his own political career and his American counterpart. But he didn’t mention favorites. Is that a diplomatic response?
Maybe, but as far as economic relations are concerned, it’s an accurate assessment.
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