Trump goes to war with World Trade Organisation
As May warns US over Boeing bust-up...
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.’