Trump goes to war with World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion

As May warns US over Boe­ing bust-up...

Daily Mail - - City & Finance - by Hugo Dun­can

DON­ALD Trump has been ac­cused of wag­ing war on global trade rules as Theresa May warned of ‘creeping pro­tec­tion­ism’ around the world.

As fall­out from the dis­pute be­tween US aero­space gi­ant Boe­ing and Cana­dian ri­val Bom­bardier con­tin­ued, the Pres­i­dent came un­der fire over a bat­tle with the World Trade Or­gan­i­sa­tion.

The WTO reg­u­lates in­ter­na­tional trade, but Trump has pledged to take ‘a more ag­gres­sive ap­proach’ in America’s deal­ings with the body – and threat­ened to defy rul­ings he did not like.

He has also been ac­cused of try­ing to starve into sub­mis­sion the WTO’s dis­pute set­tle­ment sys­tem by re­fus­ing to ap­point judges to ap­peals pan­els.

Ex­perts said the cri­sis threat­ened to re­place a trad­ing sys­tem cre­ated after the Cold War ‘with ag­gres­sive power pol­i­tics unchecked by the rule of law’.

The warn­ing came as the Prime Min­is­ter launched a thinly veiled at­tack on Trump after the US slapped puni­tive tar­iffs of 220pc on im­ports of Bom­bardier CHIGH Se­ries air­craft. The de­ci­sion by the US Depart­ment of Com­merce, fol­low­ing a com­plaint by Boe­ing, risks up to 14,000 jobs in North­ern Ire­land, where the wings are built.

‘There is a real chal­lenge for us glob­ally, be­cause there are as­pects of pro­tec­tion­ism creeping in around the world,’ said May. ‘I want the UK to be a global cham­pion of free trade.’

The row with Bom­bardier led to the Gov­ern­ment threat­en­ing to block Boe­ing from fu­ture de­fence con­tracts worth bil­lions of pounds un­less it backs down. May added: ‘We have a long-term part­ner­ship with Boe­ing and this is not the sort of be­hav­iour we ex­pect from a long-term part­ner... it un­der­mines that part­ner­ship.’

Labour called for the Boe­ingBom­bardier case to be re­ferred to the WTO, but ex­perts warned this may not make a dif­fer­ence.

Den­nis Novy, pro­fes­sor of eco­nomics at the Univer­sity of War­wick, said the tar­iff slapped on Bom­bardier was ‘de­signed to com­pletely kill’ the C-Se­ries pro­gramme. ‘Trump is telling the rest of the world that he doesn’t care about the rules,’ he said.

Trump is also de­mand­ing changes to the WTO dis­pute set­tle­ment sys­tem, and has re­fused to ap­prove the se­lec­tion of new mem­bers of its Ap­pel­la­tion Body, its de facto court of ap­peal. Pro­fes­sor Man­fred El­sig, of the World Trade In­sti­tute at the Univer­sity of Bern, said: ‘The Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has been mount­ing a high-stakes at­tack on the WTO’s ju­di­cial process. If it suc­ceeds, the con­se­quences for the world trade sys­tem will be grim.

‘The rules-based in­ter­na­tional trad­ing sys­tem has stood for decades, but in­ter­na­tional courts and the rule of law are frag­ile and there is no guar­an­tee they will stand up to a sus­tained as­sault.’

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