Trade conflict heats up
8 March 2018
The Trump administration is expected to announce today how it will apply the tariffs on steel and aluminium outlined last week. While a full-scale global trade war has yet to break out, the major powers are manoeuvring for an impending conflict.
Yesterday, European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström said the EU would take the case to the World Trade Organisation and work with others if Trump went ahead. The EU, she confirmed, has drawn up a list of products that would be subject to tariffs to the tune of €2.83 billion if the US proceeds. The targets could include certain types of bourbon, and food products such as peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice, as well as Harley Davidson motorbikes.
Malmström said she was reluctant to use the term “trade war” and the EU did not “want this to go out of proportion.” But she added: “[W]e need to take certain measures if this [happens]. It risks a serious blow to the European economy and to our workers.”
The European powers hope to be excluded on the basis that they are strategic allies of the US, so the “national security” grounds on which Trump announced the measures do not apply to them.
However, this argument, which was advanced by the now former head of Trump’s National Economic Council, Gary Cohn, who resigned on Tuesday, is not cutting much ice as the “America First” economic nationalists assume greater control in the White House.
Trump used a press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Löfven on Tuesday to single out the EU for attack. “The European Union has been particularly tough on the United States,” he said. “They make it almost impossible for the United States to do business with them. And yet they send their…