The US has scored a victory against the EU at the World Trade Organization (WTO). On Wednesday, it ruled that the US could impose tariffs on $7.5 billion worth of European goods in retaliation to illegal EU subsidies given to aircraft maker Airbus. American grumbles over state support in Europe for its premier plane maker go back decades. European policies, the US has long alleged, had given Airbus an unfair advantage over its Boeing in the global market.
Rivalry between the two has been intense. While Airbus has had a setback in its failure to turn its A380 ‘super jumbo’ into the world’s long-haul of choice, Boeing has recently has a blowout with its 737 Max planes. The Donald Trump administration in the US, however, is in the midst of a trade battle with the EU, and the ruling would be music to his ears. But if he does exercise the option to levy tariffs on EU imports, it would only worsen trans-Atlantic tensions.
The world is already reeling under the mercantilist approach taken by the world’s most powerful country. According to recent forecasts, world trade in merchandise is expected to expand by only 1.2% during 2019, markedly lower than the 2.6% forecast made in April. This would make this the weakest year for trade since 2009, when it plunged by nearly 13% (on account of the West’s Great Recession). Call it slowbalization of deglobalization, it bodes ill for international relations. What is needed are US-EU talks to resolve trade differences.