It wasn't just European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker who took advantage of today's G20 summit to explain the advantages of free trade agreements to U.S. President Donald Trump - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe did the same.
"A number of EU countries may be affected by a US measure, certainly more than countries such as China for which steel exports to the USA have mostly been blocked by massive anti-dumping actions", the European Steel Association, known as Eurofer, said. He gave the example of his Apple iPhone, which is designed in the US, made in China with some USA parts, and sold in Europe - an argument he first advanced to his fellow G-20 leaders in response to Trump's assertion that he will always defend American workers.
"Explained that the USA must fix the many bad trade deals it has made", he tweeted early Sunday.
Also, invoking national security is all but taboo at the World Trade Organisation, the arbiter of global trade rules, because it is largely seen as a way to wage economic warfare by citing arbitrary defense concerns. Trump announced Friday that had called on South Korea to "stop enabling the export of dumped steel". So much for China working with us - but we had to give it a try!
The last global summit, the Group of Seven meeting in May, was hugely divided over climate and trade and the Hamburg meeting was no different.
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America's biggest trade partners have taken far fewer protectionist measures against US business so far this year, possibly because they're anxious about retaliation, according to the authors of the Global Trade Alert - published by the London-based Centre for Economic Policy Research. The U.S. also has accused China of shipping steel and aluminum to the U.S. through countries such as Vietnam and South Korea.
According to the U.S. International Trade Administration, Canada supplies 20 percent of America's overall steel imports, followed by Brazil, which supplies 13 percent. They would not comment on a report made by the Financial Times that said the European Union could hit US imports of orange juice and bourbon. For example, U.S. Steel went up 8% in June. An administration official, however, told Reuters last week that the report would be released after Trump spoke with leaders at the Group of 20 summit in Germany later this week. The G-20 will "continue to fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices and recognize the rule of legitimate trade defense instruments in this regard".
The final statement also underlined Trump's lone stand on climate change, saying that all G-20 members except for the U.S.
"We are going to see probably more private conversations about the Section 232 process under way in the USA", said Joshua Meltzer, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution in Washington.
World Trade Organization members are already reeling from the unsafe precedent being set by a growing preoccupation with national security measures at the Geneva-based trade body.