How Donald Trump Frees the Allies of U.S. Dependency

President Donald Trump with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Mauricio Macri, the President of Argentina. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

President Donald Trump has ‘unleashed a global trade war’ after imposing tariffs on the U.S. allies like the European Union, Canada, and Mexico. The longstanding U.S. allies are now promising to fight back against the U.S. decision sparking the fear of global trade war- a fear that was already loading after escalating trade conflicts between the U.S. and China. The United States and China have imposed tariffs against each other threatening an all-out trade war between the rivalry countries and now, the latest trade conflicts between the U.S. and the allies threaten a global trade war that President Trump said was ‘easy to win’.

With the Chinese issues already on the table, the U.S. has found its allies vowing to fight against the President’s move- a move that Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau found “totally unacceptable”. A clearly disappointed Trudeau said: “These tariffs are an affront to the longstanding security partnership between Canada and the United States and, in particular, an affront to the thousands of Canadians who have fought and died alongside their American brothers in arms.”

In retaliation for the U.S. decision, Canada has announced to place tariffs on $12.8 bn U.S. goods including steel and aluminum. The European Union has also announced to place tariffs on $7.5 bn in U.S. exports and vowed to lodge a case with the WTO. Decrying the U.S. ‘protectionism’, the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said: “The United States now leaves us with no choice but to proceed with WTO dispute settlement case and with the imposition of additional duties on a number of imports from the United States.”

The French President Emmanuel Macron was open to criticize the U.S. tariffs as ‘illegal’ and coined the U.S. move as a “mistake” while the German Chancellor Angela Merkel warned the U.S. of an “intelligent, decisive and joint” EU response following the U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross’ telephone briefing announcing a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports from the EU, Canada, and Mexico.

“We look forward to continued negotiations, both with Canada and Mexico on the one hand and with the European Commission on the other hand, because there are other issues that we also need to get resolved,” Wilbur Ross told the reporters in a telephone briefing. However, amid widespread anger and despair among the U.S. allies about the newly imposed tariffs, the U.S. President said the tariffs ensured “Fair Trade”.

Donald Trump’s America First policy has been impacting the United States’ longstanding relations with the allies. Many of the unilateral U.S. decisions have led the EU, Canada, France, and Germany to believe that they can no longer rely on the United States. The German Chancellor Angela Merkel, just a week after meetings with President Trump in May 2017, said Europe “really must take our fate into our own hands.” Merkel said the days when Europe could rely on others were “over to a certain extent. This is what I have experienced in the last few days.”

The European Union’s reevaluation of its relations with the U.S. didn’t take much time to come since Trump administration came in charge of the White House. Since the beginning of his time as the U.S. President, Donald Trump failed to respect the traditional relations with the allies built on faith and interdependency. A soaring mistrust among European Union, Canada and Britain fueled by the U.S. withdrawals from significant multilateral agreements under Trump leadership increasingly questioned the traditional reliance on the U.S. and pushed them closer to China in some extent.

In his ‘crusade’ to dismantle the legacy of former President Barack Obama, President Donald Trump, in his first executive actions, scrapped Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP); “a flagship trade deal with 11 countries in the Pacific Rim”- as David Smith coined it on The Guardian. Donald Trump’s scrapping of the TPP had some supports at home as a top Democrat like Barnie Sanders praised Trump’s decision because the TPP that caused “race to the bottom” was “dead and gone”. President Trump, however, seemed happy because his first move to dismantle the legacy of Obama was successful.

President Donald Trump announced to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on June 1, 2018, because he rejects scientists’ warnings about climate change stunning the other signatory countries like European Union, Canada, and China. Justifying Donald Trump’s announcement, the U.S. State Department said: “The United States supports a balanced approach to climate policy that lowers emissions while promoting economic growth and ensuring energy security.”

The U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Agreement was a huge blow for the deal but as many worried that the deal wouldn’t survive without the U.S. leadership was proved to be an ‘exaggerated fear’ after the European Union and China teamed up to ensure the survival of the agreement. Jan Gasper, a China expert told Deutsche Welle (DW) in an interview after the U.S. pulled out of Paris Agreement: “Currently, Europe and China have more common interests than the EU and the United States have.” Mr. Gasper added that “these shared values are particularly evident in global trade and climate policy” in a time when the “U.S. foreign policy is viewed as equally unreliable and myopic in both Beijing and major European capitals.”

The U.S. allies also refused to follow the lead when President Trump unilaterally pulled the U.S. out of The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)- largely known as Iran Deal rejecting all the ‘passionate urges’ from the other signatory members. The Trump administration even warned to impose the strongest sanctions in the history against Iran threatening European companies’ having economic ties with Tehran. But against the U.S. expectations, all other JCPOA signatories including Britain, France, and Germany have repeatedly vowed not to walk away.

The U.S. withdrawals from the Paris Agreement, the Iran Deal, or the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)- none have impacted the multilateral deals to come to an end in the absence of the United States. All these unilateral U.S. moves multiplied with the latest trade conflicts with the allies rejuvenated the opinion Angela Merkel shared last year that they “really must take our fate into our own hands.”

About Masum Billah 37 Articles
Masum Billah is a Staff Writer for The GeoStrategists. A Graduate from the Department of International Relations at the University of Dhaka, Masum Billah is a human rights activist. He writes columns on human rights, foreign policy, and terrorism.
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