Growing Opposition to President Biden's "America First" Offensive
Global industrial development and competition in all sectors including advanced technology has the U.S. imperialists striking out even at allies. The Biden administration's Inflation Reduction Act and the CHIPS and Science Act have unleashed a torrent of criticism not only from China but also south Korea and others considered U.S. friends.
Both acts hand over huge amounts of public money to favoured oligarchs. Biden himself participated in a groundbreaking ceremony at an Intel chip factory construction site in Ohio where he said, "The future of the chip industry is going to be made in America." His visit on September 9 was part of electioneering to defeat candidates of his arch enemy former President Trump in the coming November elections.
Federal and state officials have promised to cover at least one-third of any investment Intel makes in the U.S. in new production facilities. The planned budget for the new Ohio Intel semiconductor manufacturing plant alone is $20 billion with billions more slated for Arizona.
The other immediate "America First " target is electric vehicle production. The U.S. government says electric vehicles assembled in North America will be eligible for tax credits while those imported from abroad -- in particular from south Korea, Japan, the EU and southeast Asia — will suffer what amounts to special tariffs.
Even the Washington Post questioned an attack on "friendly nations such as Japan and the EU" while at the same time asking allies to support U.S. imperialism's broad sanctions and proxy wars against China, Russia, Cuba, the DPRK and others.
Bloomberg News describes the Inflation Reduction Act as a "snub against Korean-made electric vehicles" and even a "betrayal," prompting the EU to open an investigation at the World Trade Organization.
The south Korean newspaper Hankyoreh writes, "The U.S.' recent discriminatory measure against Korean-made electric vehicles has symbolically demonstrated the hypocrisy of the Biden administration's simultaneous emphasis on 'economic security alliance' as well as protectionist policies."
Hankyoreh also writes, "As the U.S. speeds up its policy of reorganizing supply chains for cutting-edge technology, such as semiconductors and batteries to centre itself, more and more Korean companies and foreign companies that were considering investing in south Korea are heading to the U.S. Korea urgently needs to devise a trade strategy that comprehensively considers the damage south Korea may incur due to 'America First'."
The U.S. ruling elite openly boast of applying pressure on others to do their bidding. U.S. Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo bragged to the Wall Street Journal that she successfully forced the Taiwanese semiconductor company GlobalWafers to cancel its planned investment in south Korea and instead send the money to the United States. Raimondo reportedly told the newspaper that the U.S. government would make up the huge difference in the price of constructing a new plant in Texas. Raimondo said the U.S. would "make the math work" by paying with public funds the over three times extra investment needed.
Hankyoreh writes, "With the U.S. implementing its strategy of supporting domestic companies competing with China in the cutting-edge technology sector while absorbing factories run by foreign companies into the U.S. in earnest, south Korea and other U.S. allies are taking a hit.
"With Samsung Electronics, SK and Hyundai Motors announcing trillions won in investments according to the U.S.' policies, concerns are being raised regarding the hollowing out of manufacturing in south Korea as well as jobs.
"South Korean companies are facing an impasse, with Korean-made electric vehicles made ineligible for tax credits on the one hand, as the Inflation Reduction Act stipulates that electric vehicles should be assembled in North America in order to be eligible for the tax credits; on the other hand, south Korean companies are facing U.S. regulations that forbid semiconductor companies receiving U.S. funding for factory construction from building high-tech manufacturing facilities in China for the next 10 years."
Hankyoreh complains of the "U.S.' tendency to share burdens with its allies while monopolizing benefits" but offers no new direction to escape from the impasse. It does not want to see because it lacks the courage that a new direction is staring it in the face. A reunified Korean Peninsula without U.S. military dictate in control of the south would be a powerful force for a self-reliant Korean economy serving the people and not the U.S. imperialist "America First" regime of aggressive competition and war.
This article was published in
Volume 52 Number 9 - September, 2022
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