(*This opinion / analytical article was written by Ivan Dikov for The European Views website.)
The United States has had to back down twice in the past 16 years in major trade disputes with the European Union.
Compared to the Trump Era, December 4, 2003, was a day back in a simpler time, a nicer time in international politics, at least for the West – although both the 9/11 terrorist attacks in New York City and Washington, D.C., and the US invasion of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had already happened.
Yet, so much stuff hadn’t: the 2008 Global Economic and Financial Crisis, the resurgence of Russia, the full-fledged rise of China, and the deepening and widening intra-Western Trans-Atlantic rift.
Still, December 4, 2003, was especially notable in so many ways, including for its repercussions on precisely on intra-Western, EU-US, North America – Europe relations.
It was the moment when the European Union triumphed over the United States in a trade dispute over the new US tariffs on steel imports.
Not only was this the most categorical display of the power of EU unity, and the Union’s tremendous global weight in matters in trade and economy but it was a case of ingenious diplomacy mixed with international law in which the EU exploited the peculiarities of the American electoral system threatening to slap retaliatory tariffs on what can only be described as “politically sensitive goods”.
The steel tariffs had been imposed in 2002 by the spunky, can-do administration of then US President George W. Bush, and were immediately disputed by the European Union, which took to case to the World Trade Organization.
As the WTO ruled the US steel tariffs were illegal, and that the EU was entitled to imposing retaliatory measures, the European Commission (led at the time by Italian Romano Prodi) the EU executive which is empowered to speak on behalf of the entire Union at least in matters of trade, came up with an initially surprising decision – to slap tariffs on orange juice.
Orange juice. And some other politically sensitive goods such as motorbikes.
This decision was probably the brainchild of some nerdy Eurocrats staffing those long-corridor offices in the mammoth Berlaymont Building in Brussels.
It was a genius one…
Read the rest of this article on The European Views website here
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