The trade wars are looking more and more like children in a playground

children fighting
Image credit | jeancliclac/

You know how it is, the children are in the playground, playing away nicely, sharing their toys and everyone is relaxed and happy.

But there is always one. He stops sharing. He tries to stop the child whose popularity is growing from playing. He calls him a cheat and suddenly everything changes. Then there follows a period of name-calling, hair pulling and there are tears before bedtime.

What then happens (in the real world) is the grown-ups step in, have a few words and order is restored.

Except in the case of the trade wars, it is grown-ups who are doing the name-calling, hair pulling and producing seismic tantrums.

To rational people, the whole thing is a complete shambles.

And, as now seems very likely, illegal.

The Trump administration has been stopped in its tracks in its attempt to have a social media app banned but it is safe to assume that this story is not over. And, of course, it is China who pointed out that the ban contravenes WTO rules.

The other issue is that the spat between the US (who is trying to get all the other children on its side) and China is casting a veil over the other growing trade war – between India and China. In fact, India has gone further than the States. It has actually banned hundreds of Chinese apps, escalating an already tense situation.

India has also fired an opening salvo across the bows of the evangelists of globalisation, the big tech companies. The country is actively considering building its own app marketplace to block Google Play and the Apple App Store, to stamp out the 25 to 30% commissions that the tech companies charge. They are said to be making the move to the new marketplace mandatory on Android phones, which means the threat has real teeth. Android phones enjoy a 97% market share.

Where all this will lead us is anybody’s guess but one thing is clear. The children will end up playing with their own toys and any thought of co-operation and growth and mutual benefit will be a thing of the past.

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