The actions could harm other international agreements for years to come.
Perhaps the most ominous fallout from the tariffs may not be noticed for many years as borders become less friendly and carefully created air cargo trade-lane agreements can suffer – even among long-term allies. Another potential problem is that other countries may erect similar trade barriers around the world.
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, said protectionism “cannot be the answer” to trade disputes. “Instead of providing a solution, this move can only aggravate matters,” he wrote. “We will not sit idly while our industry is hit with unfair measures that put thousands of European jobs at risk… The EU will react firmly and commensurately to defend our interests.”
Speaking in Berlin earlier this month at a multilateral trade meeting, Roberto Azevêdo, director-general of the World Trade Organisation, said that “rising trade tensions risk a major economic impact, undermining the strongest sustained period of trade growth since the financial crisis. They also pose a real systemic threat, risking far greater impacts in the longer term.”
Azevêdo continued: “Many would agree that the trading system is imperfect and that it needs reform. I would agree with that, but I would also say that the core principles of the system have tremendous value. They are the pillar on which many decades of stability, growth and development have been built. But we should also be seeking to strengthen and improve it, for the benefit of everyone. The best way to do this is through a new dialogue among leaders.”