The rest of the world is moving on without the United States.
The European Union and Japan signed a benchmark trade deal Tuesday that effectively eliminates nearly all tariffs on the products they trade. European Council President Donald Tusk described the deal as the “largest bilateral trade deal ever.”
“The EU and Japan showed an undeterred determination to lead the world as flag-bearers for free trade,” Japanese Prime Ministor Shinzo Abe said at a joint news conference with European dignitaries.
The measures will take some time to kick in, but when they do, Japanese consumers will see lower prices on European imports including wine, pork, and pharmaceuticals. In Europe, Japanese machinery parts, tea, and fish will be cheaper.
While President Donald Trump was not explicitly named, world leaders did not restrain themselves from making subtle jabs aimed at him — hinting that Trump’s actions have only made Japan and the EU stronger together.
“We are showing that we are stronger and better off when we work together. And we are leading by example, showing that trade is about more than tariffs and barriers,” EU Commission head Jean-Claude Juncker said during the news conference. “It is about values, principles and finding win-win solutions for all those concerned.”
Meanwhile, Trump’s “America First” policies are leaving the U.S. isolated on the international stage.
Almost immediately after his inauguration, the president withdrew from the wide-ranging Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement, setting the tone for how the Trump administration planned to conduct business with other nations.
Most recently, President Trump slapped steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada and the European Union, two of the United States’ largest trading partners.
The rest of the world has responded in kind.
Last July, ahead of the G-20 summit, Japan and the EU signaled they were ready to move ahead with brokering trade deals on their own. In February, the EU announced it would only make trade deals with nations that ratify the Paris climate agreement, a group that excludes the United States.
“One of our main demands is that any country who signs a trade agreement with EU should implement the Paris Agreement on the ground,” said Jean-Baptiste Lemoyne, French foreign affairs minister, at the time. “No Paris Agreement, no trade agreement. The [United States] knows what to expect.”
Other countries are also pushing back against U.S. tariffs. Canada retaliated with $12.5 billion in new duties on a variety of U.S. goods, including steel and aluminum, as well as whiskey, maple syrup, orange juice, ketchup, and lawn mowers. The EU hit the U.S. with $3.3 billion in tariffs on American goods. And facing a 10 percent tariff on aluminium exports, China retaliated with tariffs of its own on U.S. agricultural products.
Ironically enough, farmers — the very group of Americans Trump swore to protect — claim their businesses are suffering as a result of Trump’s growing trade war. Similarly, American companies Trump has praised for manufacturing in the U.S. are now moving production overseas due to steel tariffs.
The White House, however, doesn’t believe it is “fair” for other nation’s to retaliate against U.S. tariffs. The administration filed a five complaints with the World Trade Organization (WTO) against the group of countries that levied tariffs against the U.S.
holy smokes, USTR just filed a WTO case against five governments for retaliating against the steel and aluminum duties. it’s already been sued over those duties 8 different times, and this pushes the whole affair fully into the absurd. pic.twitter.com/G8ph9wPhY5
— Alex Lawson (@AlexxLawson) July 16, 2018
“I think it’s it is very unfair that the EU has responded with tariffs on other things,” U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin told Fox Business News in an interview last month. “And they have done that and it is politically motivated, and if they object to our steel tariffs, that’s something they should go through WTO and others, but they do not have the right to respond in a political fashion and hurt our farmers and our critical other areas.”