Talking Trade with Rick Graber, former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic

In the latest edition of “Talking Trade,” former U.S. Ambassador to the Czech Republic Rick Graber discusses the political landscape around the Russia-Ukraine war and how the conflict is affecting European economies. 

Graber, the former state Republican Party chair and current leader of the Bradley Foundation, says he differs from other Republicans who question why the United States is getting involved by providing aid to Ukraine. 

“I think there is a legitimate American interest, and I think the United States and the Biden Administration should have stepped up sooner, more quickly and more aggressively than they did,” he said. 

As the situation currently stands, Graber said there’s little reason for optimism about Ukraine. 

“This is going to be, has been and will be a long, long slog,” he said. 

Still, when the conflict does get resolved eventually, a “massive reconstruction effort” will be required to rebuild Ukraine, Graber said. He described it as an opportunity for Europe and the United States, though he said China is keeping an eye out for opportunities in the region as well. 

“In the meantime, the economies of central Europe … are going to have to adjust without much input from Ukraine, I’m afraid, as the country continues to get pummeled,” he said. 

Graber also weighs in on how President Biden and former President Trump have been dealing with China through tariffs and other economic tactics. 

“I am not, in general, a big fan of tariffs,” he said. “I think you’ve got to let the free market operate … I would hope that [tariffs] would be a temporary weapon. By the same token, the Chinese haven’t been playing by the rules. If they’re stealing intellectual property — which they do — that’s not acceptable either.”