The strange link between tariffs, opioids, and opium

Two things about US President Donald Trump's surprise decision on Aug 1 to slap further tariffs on some US$300 billion (S$415 billion) worth of Chinese imports from Sept 1 should set people thinking.

First, it was all too sudden. Just when the world was led to believe that the latest round of trade talks between American and Chinese trade officials in Shanghai had gone reasonably well, he dropped the bombshell. From all accounts, Beijing was taken by surprise and has retaliated by ordering state-owned companies to stop importing agricultural products from the United States and allowing the value of the yuan against the US dollar to slide to 7, closer to the historic low of 8.5.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 08, 2019, with the headline 'The strange link between tariffs, opioids, and opium'. Print Edition | Subscribe