Interview: U.S. zero-sum trade approach harms interests of allies, expert says

SEOUL, April 21 (Xinhua) — The United States no longer sees trade from a win-win perspective but as a zero-sum game instead, which inflicts damage on its allies, a South Korean expert has said.

“Since World War II, the United States has developed an international trade system that establishes and manages rules under the U.S. hegemony as it believed that free trade grows the economy of itself and the world,” Kim Joo-hwan, professor at the department of international industrial information of Kyonggi University, said in a recent written interview with Xinhua.

Kim said the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) and the CHIPS and Science Act, however, represented a “sweeping revision of these traditional orders and norms” as the acts seek to relocate manufacturing production facilities to the United States and “sever the United States and its allies from China on the pretext of climate change and defense security.”

“(The United States) now critically sees the free trade system from the perspective of a zero-sum game, not as mutually win-win,” the professor said.

The CHIPS and Science Act stipulate that in exchange for subsidies to South Korean semiconductor firms investing in the United States, the chipmakers are required to disclose sensitive trade secrets such as lists of and revenue from key customer companies and to share excess profits with the U.S. government.

This violates the autonomy of private firms and runs counter to free trade under the principle of capitalism, Kim said, adding that the U.S. government’s ban on South Korean chipmakers from investing in China can be seen as a restriction on national sovereignty.

As for the IRA, it was enacted on the pretext of calling for a response to climate change and carbon reduction, but its other name is protectionism, he said.

The professor said the two acts don’t just target China so as to gain an upper hand in competition but also force the high-tech industries of U.S. allies to be relocated to the United States, leading to a hollowing-out of the allies’ high-tech industries.

“The two acts represent the hegemonistic thinking of the United States,” Kim said.

The two acts send a “strong message” that it will not be free of charge to maintain the South Korea-U.S. alliance, and that South Korea should “pay for the cost,” he said.

“It is embarrassing for South Korea, which should keep good relations with both the United States and China. The South Korean government should not have a perspective of choosing one of the two, but place a top priority of its foreign policy on ensuring that it will not happen,” Kim added.