Tariffs miss the mark, Protectionism favors powerful nations, Children should not be targeted for taking a stand, Five Star Movement’s win in Italy continues a populist trend, Better avenues needed for reporting sexual harassment

A roundup of global commentary for the March 19, 2018 weekly magazine.

Peter Power/Reuters/File
A garbage bin with the words "STEEL MY JOB!" painted on it sits in a storage yard where structural steel is loaded onto a truck in the portlands of Hamilton, Ontario, Canada, March 9, 2018. Picture taken March 9, 2018.

South China Morning Post / Hong Kong

Steel and aluminum tariffs miss the mark

“The cost of The Donald’s policy of imposing heavy import tariffs on steel and aluminium continues to rise, with the resignation of ... Gary Cohn, his top economic adviser...,” writes Richard Harris. “Steel and aluminium are poor targets for an American trade war.... [T]hey miss the fundamental issue of seeking to rebalance trade with China. Targeting steel allies would hammer Canada, the European Union (EU) and South Korea, who export something like 13 times more steel to the US than China.... Western companies complain that business always seems to be on China’s terms.... You cannot blame the central government for wanting to ‘make China great’. A developing economy looks to benefit from trade, cheap labour and hard work.... But Trump has no historical context, and sees China as a full equal geopolitical rival....” 

The Guardian / London

Protectionism has always favored powerful nations

“Protectionism is often associated with, and criticised in, the policies of poorer countries,” writes Afua Hirsch. “It’s what Sierra Leone, Zimbabwe and Iran do, and why they are ranked among the least competitive business environments.... America, with the EU by its side – the narrative goes – is the ultimate free-trade pillar of western capitalism. But this is one of the greatest branding myths of all time.... [S]ince the global financial crash G20 nations have consistently increased protectionism, with painful consequences for ... African nations.... The one ray of light in the dog-eat-dog atmosphere of today’s international relations is that the ruthlessness with which powerful nations protect their self-interest is transparent.” 

Al Jazeera / Doha, Qatar

Children should never be targeted for taking a stand

“It is absurd and unnecessary to have to say that it is wrong for adults to attack children, who have survived a school shooting or [are] facing bombardment on a daily basis,” writes Malak Chabkoun. “But apparently, we live in a world where children in distress are seen as ‘fair targets’, accused of everything and anything from being actors ... to being al-Qaeda agents. This was recently the case with a Syrian boy, 15, who has been viciously attacked online and in the media for posting videos showing the devastation of Eastern Ghouta.... A suffering child in the US deserves our attention and for us to come to his or her defence, and so do suffering children in the Middle East.” 

The Hindu / Chennai, India

Five Star Movement’s election win in Italy continues a populist trend

“As the dust settles on the Italian parliamentary elections, it is unclear who the next Prime Minister will be,” states an editorial. “But two things are clear. First, the election was a strong rejection of the incumbent, centre-left Democratic Party (PD), which has managed just 19% of the vote. Second, there is a strong anti-establishment undercurrent, with the largest vote share (32%) to a single party going to the Five Star Movement.... It appears that a growing but troubled economy and the migrants crisis have left Italians disenchanted with business-as-usual politics as well as the European Union, a pattern that has become all too familiar across Europe over the last few years.”

The Age / Melbourne, Australia

Better avenues needed for reporting sexual harassment

“If you were to plot the past year for women on an emotional seismograph, it would trace a wildly oscillating line, with sexual harassment and violence the overarching preoccupation...,” writes Miki Perkins. “What feminist wouldn’t feel a certain schadenfreude at this watershed cultural moment?... But this year has also held pain. The #metoo disclosures were a global keening, which rent a hole in the collective inertia. Australia has had sexual harassment laws since the 1980s but reporting regimes remain patchwork or flawed.... Since the [Harvey] Weinstein story broke, Victoria’s Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has seen a 40 per cent increase in complaints, the majority related to sexual harassment. To properly respond, we need better avenues to report harassment.”

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