President Trump seems to consider that international trade is just another form of poker he can win.

In one of his famous tweets, he bluntly states that :  When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win. Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”.

» Read more

Hence his idea to simply unilaterally increase duties notably on imports of European and Canadian steel and aluminium by not less than 25 and 10%.

Mentioning such an idea is, off course, completely irresponsible in a world in which trade between countries is regulated by the WTO.

The European Commission President, Jean-Claude Juncker, reacted rather aggressively to President Trump’s announcement by saying : “If the Americans impose tariffs on steel and aluminium, then we must treat American products the same way.”

“We must show that we can also take measures. This cannot be a unilateral transatlantic action by the Americans,” he said. “I’m not saying we have to shoot back, but we must take action.

“We will put tariffs on Harley-Davidson, on bourbon and on blue jeans – Levi’s,” he added.

On its side, the International Monetary Fund said that Donald Trump’s plan would cause international damage – and also harm America’s own economy :“The import restrictions announced by the US President are likely to cause damage not only outside the US, but also to the US economy itself, including to its manufacturing and construction sectors, which are major users of aluminium and steel.”

This possible futur trade war will certainly generate interesting bi- and multilateral discussions, the result of which remains uncertain (despite President Trump’s assertions). At the present time, the question is however to know how the European industry might help EU authtorities to negociate in a better position.

The answer to this question probably partly lies in the possibility offered to start, wherever possible, dumping procedures against well-defined us products. The European industry should indeed consider to initiate a maximum of such procedures, even where the situation of dumping is not clearly demonstrated. The mere existence of these procedures will then, in turn, certainly influence trade negociations.

Dominique Grisay

» Reduce text