Trump’s Delay on Tariffs Annoys Europe
The Trump Administration decided last-minute on Tuesday to delay punitive aluminum and steel tariffs in Europe by a month. This news annoyed European leaders, who view the act not as one of generosity or conciliation, but as another 30 days of uncertainty that will undermine supply networks and deter economic growth.
In a statement put forth the same day by the European Union’s executive arm, they openly projected their annoyance for President Trump’s protectionist assault: “…[the] EU has over the past months engaged at all possible levels with the US and other partners to find a solution to this issue. The EU has also consistently indicated its willingness to discuss current market access issues of interest to both sides, but has also made clear that, as a longstanding partner and friend of the US, we will not negotiate under threat. Any future transatlantic work programme has to be balanced and mutually beneficial.”
The statement continued, demanding that the EU be fully and permanently exempted from American trade penalties, and threatened retaliation otherwise.
In an article published by the New York Times, Jack Ewing, added that “[the European leaders] find it absurd that Mr. Trump is risking a trade war with Europe, the United States’ biggest trading partner, rather than joining forces to rein in Chinese trade practices they both oppose.”
Rising tensions between the United States and the European Union demonstrate a growing conflict between the EU’s cautious, often ponderous approach to policy making and President Trump’s unpredictability and aggressiveness.
The Trump Administration’s threats to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum is rooted in the White House’s promise to reduce the American trade deficit with the EU, as well as receive concessions, such as lowering tariffs on American cars sold stateside.
The Europeans, in turn, responded that they “will not negotiate under threat,” and will only discuss President Trump’s concerns after the bloc receives exemption from the tariffs, which they regard as illegal.
The unusual tone of the statement from Brussels exemplifies the broad gap between the European Commission’s typically meticulous deliberations and procedures, and President Trump’s ad hoc decision-making style, such as announcing an extension to the tariffs mere hours before the deadline.
Economists have raised concerns that the uncertainty threatens large corporations and business who are trying to strategize whether to buy or sell products that contain steel or aluminum. This, in conjunction with President Trump’s provocative approach, has fueled anxiety in Europe, while also delaying the continent’s long-awaited economic recovery.
The risk that a trade war poses primarily impact businesses who may be less willing to invest and create jobs, including the imminent end of the European Central Bank stimulus, Britain’s planned exit from the bloc, and political deadlock in Italy.