Who will we sell our machines to? | international


The president of the United States, Donald Trump, gave a break to Europe, postponing until November 24 his decision on the rates that support vehicles and car components coming from the European Union. Also from Japan. The announcement coincides with an easing of steel and aluminum tariffs imposed on two other important allies, Canada and Mexico, in the heat of the White House's commercial war with China and allowing Washington to concentrate all its efforts and resources on the battle with Beijing But the threat to Europe persists because in its report to the president of last February, the Commerce Department invoked national security as a justification for its proposal to increase tariffs for European cars by 2 , 5% today at 25%.

After hearing the decision, Cecilia Malmström, European Commissioner for Trade, openly rejected that the European automotive industry poses a threat to US security, but there is no doubt that this dossier will be one of the main priorities that the European Union will have to face. next college of commissioners.

Since the financial crisis, the euro area trade surplus with the United States has continued to grow and almost tripled what it was before 2008, reaching about 120,000 million euros a year. Almost half of this positive balance of bilateral trade corresponds to the sales of cars and components which since 2015 have been around 48,000 million euros. 70% of European car exports in the United States correspond to Germany, followed by Italy and, at a considerable distance, from Spain.

Trump aims to reduce this balance by increasing the price of European cars sold in the United States to promote domestic production but, as Edoardo Campanella and Thomas Strobel of Unicredit recall, this approach "ignores how value chains work in a global economy highly integrated "because much of what Europe exports to the United States under this heading are key pieces for American automakers. Indeed, among the major allies of European industry is the American industry itself. "The continuing threat of car and component prices only generates uncertainty over the past week that weakens our economy," the US Chamber of Commerce, the country's largest commercial lobby, admitted in a statement.

The reality is that the threats of the Trump administration in such a fundamental sector of European industry should be a wake-up call for European authorities to assess their policy and trade relations.

Parag Khanna, founder of the geopolitical consulting company FutureMap, said in a recent meeting in Madrid that "Europe can be the great beneficiary of trade war between the United States and China". His argument is that the tariff escalation will force the two powers to look for alternative suppliers for many products – as already happens in the case of Brazil and soy, for example – and that this will give a strong boost to many Asian countries, becoming solid markets for European products. In fact, Europe already trades more with Asia as a whole (around 1.4 trillion euros a year, according to her book) The future is Asian) that with the United States (something less than a trillion euros) and it doesn't seem unreasonable to move in that direction. According to Standard Chartered, of the seven countries that will grow over 7% annually by 2030, five are in Asia (Bangladesh, India, the Philippines, Vietnam and Myanmar). Brussels has just signed a free trade agreement with Japan and is in talks with India and the Association of Southeast Asian countries to seal similar pacts. Perhaps Trump has put European policymakers on a tray where they should try to continue selling cars in the future.

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