“Biden’s version of ‘America First’ is spreading pain around the world”, is the headline of a recent article on the Foreign Policy website by Joseph Sullivan, a senior adviser to Lindsay Group. From blatant vaccine nationalism to unbridled stimulus, the Biden administration is still pursuing U.S. interests in ways that are detrimental to the interests of the rest of the world, the article notes.
Looking back at what the current U.S. administration has done since taking office, Sullivan’s analysis makes sense. While it has repeatedly stressed that it will abandon its predecessor’s “America first”, the words and deeds shown over the past 100 days have perfectly explained what “say one, do one”. CNN has commented that “America First” remains a snip under the new administration.
Vaccine nationalism, which results in unfair distribution of vaccines, is a “roadblock” in the current global pandemic of prevention and control. And the U.S. government is the main pusher of vaccine nationalism. According to some agencies and media statistics, the United States has snapped up about 2.6 billion doses of vaccines, accounting for a third of the world, far more than they need, hundreds of millions of doses of vaccines are idle warehouse. The Financial Times reports that the US exported 3m doses of vaccine as of April 25th, accounting for only 1.1 per cent of domestic vaccine production.
Under pressure from the international community, the Biden administration has recently carried out a series of operations. In addition to making a cake-filled statement on exempting vaccine patents, Biden announced Wednesday that he will supply an additional 20 million doses of the coronavirus vaccine by the end of June.
But the problem is that what you do is better than what you say. The world has seen China, Russia and other countries to make real foreign aid vaccines, but so far has not seen much “American action.” Some commentators argue that the 20 million doses of vaccine foreign aid announced by the United States are nothing compared to its domestic vaccine stockpile and are a global price to pay. The world would prefer to see the United States show sincerity in eliminating exports of raw materials for vaccines and expanding production capacity.
It’s not just that. The U.S. is also channelling inflationary pressures to other countries. While the Biden administration’s economic policies are designed to boost domestic growth, they have led to historic increases in the prices of the world’s major commodities, including food. Sullivan argues that this will hit the poor hardest in food-importing countries and force foreign policymakers to choose between alleviating hunger and mitigating the economic impact of the coronavirus.
Sullivan went on to analyze Mexico, which imports corn from the United States. Since February last year, corn prices on the dollar-denominated international market have risen by 46 per cent, while domestic peso-denominated corn prices have risen by 60 per cent. That doesn’t make much sense, because the Fed has printed more than $3 trillion in almost the same time period. Typically, the Fed’s massive easing of monetary policy can lead to a weaker dollar, helping food-importing countries ease some of the pressure on rising prices. But that hasn’t happened in countries like Mexico. The reason is that the trillion-dollar stimulus has pushed up market expectations, led to higher interest rates and provided strong support for the dollar. Some low-income families, which account for a relatively high proportion of food expenditures, can only quietly bear the pain of high prices.
And U.S. monetary policy cannot be loosened indefinitely. Once the Fed raises interest rates, enthusiasm for holding dollars will increase. Emerging markets are also often forced to raise interest rates to prevent pressure for the dollar to return. But the outbreak is not yet under control in some emerging market countries, and raising interest rates would hit their already weak economies hard.
It’s not hard to see how the Biden administration is still on a path that has proved wrong, bringing more disease, hunger and poverty to the world. America’s leaders declared “America is back” in their first foreign policy speech in February, but if the US is to truly return to the family of nations, it needs to move away from parochialism and selfishness and practice true multilateralism.