Read

User menu

Search form

Europe Calls Into Question the Legality of Trump's Trade War

Europe Calls Into Question the Legality of Trump's Trade War
Tue, 6/19/2018 - by Charlotte Dingle

The U.S. is getting locked in a spiraling trade war with Europe that may see no winner – but plenty of losers – after President Donald Trump last month imposed trade tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, on imports of steel and aluminium from the European Union.

The E.U. responded by proposing trade sanctions on 2.8 billion euros ($3.25 billion) worth of American goods including Bourbon whisky, Levi jeans and Harley Davidson motorcycles. Now, the U.S. plans to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion in Chinese goods as well. Threats are also escalating to impose tariffs on Canada and Mexico. The legitimacy of what Trump is attempting to do is being widely called into question.

“I think the legality of Trump’s actions is a good place to start, because that partly affects how other countries will respond and therefore what the broader impact is going to be,” Julian Jessop of the U.K.’s Institute of Economic Affairs told Occupy.com.

“These tariffs aren’t even legal under U.S. law, let alone World Trade Organization (WTO) laws. Trump is justifying the latest tariff on the basis of national security under the Trade Expansion Act, which is frankly a bit of a push. It seems rather odd to be citing national security and targeting lots of countries including some of your closest native allies.”

Jessop believes that imposing tariffs on China makes some sense, but Trump’s motives for imposing sanctions on other countries are suspicious.

“If you were making points about dumping (goods), there might be some justification for imposing tariffs specifically against China, but it’s not obvious that the U.S., U.K., the rest of Europe, Canada or Mexico are dumping steel on the U.S.,” he said. “U.S. law is obviously the precedent so he’ll get someone to agree with him on that, but international law is the thing. The E.U., if it has any sense, will issue a legal challenge within the WTO against all this. The problem is that may take a year or two to resolve.”

In any case, he added, "Trump is basically making a political point but the economics are against him and I think that will become increasingly clear over time. It seems to be about once every decade or so that the U.S. imposes tariffs on steel and aluminium imports. George W. Bush did it in the early 2000s and it was widely recognized then that that was a mistake.”

The aluminium industry in particular is feeling the heat from Trump's threats – and his incredulous rationale for raising tariffs.

“We’re close allies of the U.S. and we’re considered strategic partners, so we believe we should be unconditionally exempt from these tariffs,” Tom Jones, CEO of the U.K.’s Aluminium Federation told Occupy.com. “The claim that aluminium imports into the U.K. harm U.S. national security is without any foundation or merit. The action of the U.S. government is protecting its industry from excess production.”

Jones agreed that only the sanctions against China make any modicum of sense. “They’re actually targeting the wrong trading partners. It does little to address the challenges of oversupply from China," he said. "All it does is alienate the E.U. and Canada.”

Jones added that the U.S. may ultimately come off worse in the sanctions war. “The U.S. is the place where jobs will probably mostly be affected. Consumers won’t want to apply the additional tariff on products. The U.S. is heavily dependent on imported aluminium and it’s a crucial raw material for their industrial sectors, so in the U.K. we’ll see less effect on jobs because our exports to the U.S. are quite modest and U.K. industry is quite resilient when it comes to finding other customers.”

Jessop summed up the E.U. trade situation in regards to Trump: “It’s like wild animals rutting: They have fights but it’s against their interests to have a proper fight and risk killing each other. Every now and again we have these fights but it never comes to much.”

Sign Up

Article Tabs

Greek economic crisis, Greek bailout, Syriza party, Greek austerity measures, E.U. bailouts, Alexis Tsipras

Poverty, privatizations, debt – in Greece, which just officially "ended" its bailout program, the silent majority can't let go their fear that this might just be the prelude to something worse yet to come.

California, privatization, PG&E, investor-owned utilities, energy utilities, fire risk, fire damage, Global Climate Action Summit, public banks, energy prices, consumer fees

Oil companies heat and dry up the planet, power companies start fires on the dried up land – and we pay the bills.

cybersecurity programs, US cybersecurity, Fox journalists, Fox influence, biased reporting, Fox spin, Donald Trump

It’s not clear why 43-year-old Fox News general assignment reporter Lea Gabrielle would be the answer to the State Department's long-lasting cybersecurity problems.

Black Lives Matter is no longer a target for domestic oppression. The threat of their human rights work has now peaked the interest of oppressive entities abroad.

teacher strikes, treacher pay, union busting, right to work, Janus decision, teacher demands, union support

While many teachers and their unions in the major strike states are still in a watching and waiting mode, the revolt has spread and militancy is growing.

central banks, U.S. Federal Reserve, Dodd-Frank Act, nationalizing banks, bank bailouts, financial crash

"Central banks buying stocks are effectively nationalizing U.S. corporations just to maintain the illusion that their 'recovery' plan is working."

FISA warrants, surveillance programs, monitoring journalists, journalist surveillance, FISA court, Freedom of Information Act,

The U.S. government can monitor journalists under a foreign intelligence law that allows invasive spying and operates outside the traditional court system, according to newly released documents.

Greek economic crisis, Greek bailout, Syriza party, Greek austerity measures, E.U. bailouts, Alexis Tsipras

Poverty, privatizations, debt – in Greece, which just officially "ended" its bailout program, the silent majority can't let go their fear that this might just be the prelude to something worse yet to come.

“We just want to be able to take care of ourselves as men and women, in this Department of Corrections,” a strike participant from a South Carolina prison said.Photograph by David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / Getty

Wages for incarcerated workers are typically cents per hour, and several states—Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and South Carolina—use prisoner labor without paying them at all.

Occupy Wall Street, OWS, Occupy protests, Zuccotti Park, wealth inequality, Occupy anniversary

How a movement that eschewed electoral politics is now showing up everywhere in the 2018 progressive resurgence.

cybersecurity programs, US cybersecurity, Fox journalists, Fox influence, biased reporting, Fox spin, Donald Trump

It’s not clear why 43-year-old Fox News general assignment reporter Lea Gabrielle would be the answer to the State Department's long-lasting cybersecurity problems.

Posted 6 days 10 hours ago
California, privatization, PG&E, investor-owned utilities, energy utilities, fire risk, fire damage, Global Climate Action Summit, public banks, energy prices, consumer fees

Oil companies heat and dry up the planet, power companies start fires on the dried up land – and we pay the bills.

Posted 2 days 8 hours ago
President Trump, Vice President Pence and first lady Melania Trump visit the Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington, D.C., on June 6. Secretary of Homeland Security Kirstjen Nielsen and FEMA Administrator Brock Long are seated at r

As Hurricane Florence bears down on the East Coast, a "reprehensible" disclosure.

Posted 6 days 11 hours ago
“We just want to be able to take care of ourselves as men and women, in this Department of Corrections,” a strike participant from a South Carolina prison said.Photograph by David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / Getty

Wages for incarcerated workers are typically cents per hour, and several states—Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and South Carolina—use prisoner labor without paying them at all.

Posted 1 day 9 hours ago
Occupy Wall Street, OWS, Occupy protests, Zuccotti Park, wealth inequality, Occupy anniversary

How a movement that eschewed electoral politics is now showing up everywhere in the 2018 progressive resurgence.

Posted 2 days 8 hours ago
Occupy Wall Street, OWS, Occupy protests, Zuccotti Park, wealth inequality, Occupy anniversary

How a movement that eschewed electoral politics is now showing up everywhere in the 2018 progressive resurgence.

“We just want to be able to take care of ourselves as men and women, in this Department of Corrections,” a strike participant from a South Carolina prison said.Photograph by David Paul Morris / Bloomberg / Getty

Wages for incarcerated workers are typically cents per hour, and several states—Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Texas, and South Carolina—use prisoner labor without paying them at all.

California, privatization, PG&E, investor-owned utilities, energy utilities, fire risk, fire damage, Global Climate Action Summit, public banks, energy prices, consumer fees

Oil companies heat and dry up the planet, power companies start fires on the dried up land – and we pay the bills.

Greek economic crisis, Greek bailout, Syriza party, Greek austerity measures, E.U. bailouts, Alexis Tsipras

Poverty, privatizations, debt – in Greece, which just officially "ended" its bailout program, the silent majority can't let go their fear that this might just be the prelude to something worse yet to come.

cybersecurity programs, US cybersecurity, Fox journalists, Fox influence, biased reporting, Fox spin, Donald Trump

It’s not clear why 43-year-old Fox News general assignment reporter Lea Gabrielle would be the answer to the State Department's long-lasting cybersecurity problems.