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7/29/17

EU-US Trade War? Facing trade war with Trump, Europe rediscovers its swagger – by H. von der Burchard and J. Hanke


If U.S. President Donald Trump really wants a trade war, Brussels is more than happy to give him one.

Trump could hardly have chosen a worse moment to threaten to slap tariffs on the European steel industry.

The EU trade officials staring him down on the other side of the Atlantic are more confident and assertive than they have been in years. Catalyzed by securing political agreement on a huge trade pact with Japan, they are now relishing the prospect of a tit-for-tat trade war they think they cannot lose.

“The Directorate General for Trade [in the EU] is perfectly equipped for that, and they love it,” said Pierre Defraigne. He was chief of staff to former European Commissioner for Trade Pascal Lamy, who waged the EU’s last successful trade showdown against the U.S. in 2002 — also over steel.

After months of vowing to hammer foreign steel- and aluminum-makers with tariffs and quotas, Trump has backed off from immediate action under pressure from domestic lobbies such as farmers and manufacturers, who fear the knock-on consequences of a trade conflict. The property mogul is, however, still promising to do something “fairly soon.”

At the European Commission, few believe he will simply drop his crusade to protect the steelworkers of Indiana and Ohio from the likes of the EU, which provides a hefty 14 percent of America’s steel imports.

Read more: Facing trade war with Trump, Europe rediscovers its swagger – POLITICO

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