Europe is Ready to Retaliate in Trump’s Next Trade War

Written by SK Ashby

Trump may or may not sign off on another temporary truce or limited deal of some description with China, but even if he does there's always another trade war looming on the very near horizon.

As you may recall, Trump will impose tariffs on a wide rage of European goods next Friday, October 18th -- tariffs that will hit Europe's largest economies including the United Kingdom.

Now, it's not as if there was any doubt, but European officials say they will retaliate with their own package of tariffs and other unspecified sanctions if Trump moves forward next week.

[French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire] said he doesn’t want the European Union to become the latest front in the global trade war, but that the bloc would hit the U.S. with sanctions if a settlement isn’t reached in a long-running dispute over aircraft aid. [...]

And while the EU’s top trade negotiator, Cecilia Malmstrom, said she’s hopeful a settlement can be reached that would avoid a tit-for-tat tariff escalation, the bloc has already published a preliminary list of U.S. goods -- from ketchup to video-game consoles -- being targeted in a $12 billion plan for retaliatory levies related to the Boeing case.

“I’m still in favor of a settlement,’’ Le Maire said. “But the American administration must be aware that if there is not a settlement, Europe will not have any other choice but to retaliate and to put sanctions.’’

It's possible that Trump's tariffs on European goods will be delayed (virtually anything is possible under Trump), but it does not seem likely at all.

Trump has been publicly fantasizing about imposing tariffs on Europe for more than a year and now, thanks to the World Trade Organization's (WTO) recent ruling giving Trump the green light to impose tariffs, there's very little if anything that could stop him.

Sure, this next trade war is going to cause economic harm on both sides of the Atlantic, but Trump doesn't care about that. All that matters to Trump is the feeling of empowerment he received from the WTO. And when the bad economic headlines are written, Trump will blame Europe and he may even blame the same WTO that enabled him.

I don't know what the proper response to European subsidies for Airbus is, but I know a trade war isn't it.

Given that we also subsidize Boeing (and virtually everything else through our tax codes) the proper response may be no response at all. Previous administrations didn't race to the same conclusions that Trump has because they knew there are no easy answers that do not expose us as hypocrites.

Trump isn't afraid of being a hypocrite because he has no shame. Shame is for everyone else, not Trump.