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In March, US president Donald Trump tweeted that “trade wars are good, and easy to win”. Events in the intervening six months suggest that his optimism was misplaced. As Gideon Rachman observes in his column, the first round of tariffs on China announced by Mr Trump was met with a swift reaction from Beijing. And a further tranche on $200bn of Chinese imports will elicit a similar response.

The divergent geopolitical and commercial interests of both powers suggest that we are on the verge of a full-blown trade war. And it is unlikely to be settled any time soon.

Robert Shrimsley examines the prospects for the formation of a new pro-European centre party in the UK, and concludes that the time is not yet ripe.

John Thornhill defends the principle of “net neutrality”. In the absence of perfect competition and rational actors, he argues, governments should enforce equal access to the internet.

Anjana Ahuja considers the patenting of genetic sequences harvested from the world's oceans and asks to whom this biological bounty truly belongs.

Amy Kazmin looks at a randomised control trial in the Indian state of Assam which demonstrates the dramatic economic benefits of providing workers with reading glasses.

What you’ve been saying

Britain will soon be free to export its magic delusions: letter from George Horsington, Edlibach, Switzerland

As a major breeder and exporter of unicorns, yetis and chimeras, I write in strong support of Rona Fairhead. I can see no reason why leaving the EU Single Market and abandoning membership of the multiple free trade agreements signed by the EU would hinder exports for UK businesses. The end of free movement of UK nationals to the EU will restrict British businesses’ ability to export leprechaun services to Ireland. However, I am confident that British government agencies will be purchasing more magic money tree seedlings after Brexit to offset these losses.

In response to “Immigration is vital to boost economic growth”, Investor says:

The controlled immigration of skilled individuals should be regarded as positive for the destination country, not necessarily for the source country. Uncontrolled immigration, skills unknown, surely cannot be in the long term interest of the destination country.

Anti-Semitism definition needs further thought: from John Tippler, Spalding, UK

The IHRA defines it as anti-Semitic to claim that the existence of Israel is a racist endeavour. That could mean that any imputation of racism in the creation of Israel is not allowed. Just to take two examples that challenge that assertion: First, in the course of the seizure of the major part of Palestine, nearly three-quarters of a million Palestinians were forced from their homes and lands, many into barbed wire enclosures; and second, soon after that, around 400 Palestinian villages were utterly destroyed and the locations renamed with Jewish names. I find it very hard to consider those (and numerous other) events as “not racist”.

Today’s opinion

Biological bounty is the ocean’s richest treasure
The UN is discussing who owns the genetic sequences of millions of marine creatures

FT Alphaville: Most bonds don’t trade

Four reasons why this is not the time for a new UK centre party
Brexit, the main parties’ troubles and having no obvious leader mean splitters must wait

The case for maintaining net neutrality
Absent perfect competition and rational actors, we should defend this principle

How spectacles transform the lives of tea-pickers
A trial in Assam shows the dramatic economic benefits of reading glasses for workers

Free Lunch: Will Brexit change the UK’s broken economic model?
It depends on how departure deals shape domestic policy choices

FT Alphaville: Turkey’s economy doesn’t need higher interest rates

Hostile Takeover: How Islam Hinders Progress and Threatens Society, by Thilo Sarrazin
An Islamophobic diatribe disguised as a work of scholarship

Instant Insight: Sweden vote sees right, and left, chip away at centre ground
Mainstream parties’ qualified sigh of relief cannot disguise that their base is eroding

FT View

The FT View: India’s misguided move towards data localisation
New rules are needed to guarantee cross-border flows of information

The FT View: China’s reputation as development financier on the line
Large-scale project funding from Beijing brings benefits but also raises risk of distress in vulnerable clients

The Big Read

The Big Read: How Purdue’s ‘one-two’ punch fuelled the market for opioids
Accused of exaggerating the benefits of OxyContin, the company’s owners had a bigger share than realised

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