What do Europeans think about Trump’s protectionist measures?

US trade protectionist
US trade protectionist

The unilateral moves taken by the United States to impose steep tariffs on imports have raised world wide concerns over a potential impact to global trade.

What do Europeans think of U.S. President Donald Trump’s protectionist measures? The following is highlights of remarks from officials and scholars in Europe.


Calling the behavior “pure protectionism”, European Union (EU)’s trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom told reporters in Strasbourg that U.S. tariffs imposed on steel and aluminum are distorting global trade and may undermine global economic growth.

“We are seeing a recovery and a potential growth in trade and global growth, but it is threatened by these tariffs,” Malmstrom said.


Trade balance is driven by the markets, not by governments, said Chinese Ambassador to Germany Shi Mingde, adding that “Trade war is the Pandoras Box, which could only lead to losses for the U.S., China, Europe and the whole world.”

Imposing new tariffs is “an economic dead end,” said Martin Wansleben, chief executive of the Association of German Chambers of Commerce and Industry.
“The economies of China and the United States have been intertwined heavily for a long time, so it’s impossible to introduce any protective trade measures without hurting the two economies or the world economy,” Wansleben pointed out.

“A significant cooling of global and German economic momentum would be the inevitable result of an escalation of the international trade conflict,” Marcel Fratzscher, president of the Berlin-based German Institute for Economic Research (DIW), was cited by local newspaper Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung as saying.


U.S. steel and aluminum trade tariffs imposed on some countries with exemptions for others will not effectively deal with market overcapacity and can undermine the global trade system, harming business competitiveness, said Arancha Gonzalez, head of the International Trade Center (ITC).

“We are moving from a trading system based on rules to one based on deals. Negotiated exemptions from the proposed tariffs represent another step in that direction,” said Gonzalez.
“WTO members should solve their trade problems and disputes within a multilateral framework,” Liang Guoyong, an economic officer at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development
(UNCTAD), told Xinhua.

“As shown repeatedly in the past, we need global solutions to global problems,” said Angel Gurria, secretary-general of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


“The economies are too interdependent,” said Jean Francois Di Meglio, president of the French think tank Asia Centre, in an interview with Xinhua.
The expert further said Trump “cannot allow himself not to have an agreement with China.”


“A global trade war and increasing protectionism are the last thing the world needs now,” said Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg, warning Trump’s protectionist measures might lead to “regression, war and conflict.”


Ironically, the possible trade war “could hurt the United States more than it hurts China,” said Carl Fey, a professor of international trade with the School of Business in Aalto University.

Washington should have a more active policy to help them reposition so as to succeed instead of the “knee-jerk reaction to start a trade war with China,” Carl said. Enditem

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