US - EU trade war will weaken liberal values: Askari

TEHRAN, Mar. 14 (MNA) – Professor Hossein Askari, an expert on Saudi Arabia who also teaches international business at the George Washington University, strongly believes that “rising tide of nationalism or the right is a threat to EU institutions and its architecture but this will not erode EU’s trade policies as a bloc.”

Hossein Askari, who teaches at George Washington University, tells the Tehran Times and Mehr News Agency (MNA) that trade war between US and EU will weaken liberal values.

“If Trump last through his full term of four years, and especially if he gets re-elected, and if the Republicans continue to hold both houses of the US Congress, that liberal values will be eroded dramatically, with or without a trade war. Trump and Republican control are the real threats to liberal values around the world,” Askari says.  
Following is the text of the interview:

US and the European cooperation after world war was based on trade, security and military regimes such as NATO. Do you think that a possible trade war between the US and Europe could spill over into other areas such as security and military fields?

I don’t believe that Trump’s announcement will lead to a full blown trade war. Europeans, along with others, have little choice but to retaliate with small but well-targeted tariffs that expose important Republicans in states such as Wisconsin where Paul Ryan is from and Kentucky the home state of Mitch McConnell. All this at a time when Republicans have low poll numbers before the November 2018 mid-term elections. Republican lawmakers will begin to sweat and put pressure on Trump for the first time. But in the meantime, Trump’s so-called “base” will begin to show their displeasure, especially US farmers. Once Trump starts getting bad economic news, he will be finished. The economy is the one thing he has going for him right now and it is something that he needs to survive as president.

Trump will get minor concessions from the EU, China, Canada and Mexico. He will deliver a blistering speech how his negotiating tactics helped create jobs in the US and roll back his tariffs. How he is the great negotiator who keeps his campaign promises.

Having said this, I don’t believe that tariffs, even if they are more prolonged and damaging, will spill into other arenas, especially not into the security and military arenas. The people who run these institutions are more sensible than opportunistic politicians. They will resist attacks on EU-US military cooperation.

Rising of rightist in Europe is a threat to the future of the EU and from the other side this can result in more independent trade relations for member countries outside the EU umbrella.  Considering this fact how do you see the future of EU?

You are absolutely correct that the rising tide of nationalism or the right is a threat to EU institutions and its architecture but this will not erode EU’s trade policies as a bloc. For independent trade policies to develop, the architecture of the EU would have to collapse first, or at least simultaneously. You cannot have an EU as we know it with independent trade policies of member countries.

In his first treatment, President Trump included tariff exemption for Canada and Mexico. Is this of any value to these two neighbors or is it just symbolic?

He is trying to sweet talk them into concessions in the NAFTA negotiations that are going on right now. I am sure that he will get some concessions but will they be significant? Who knows? In the end it is all about publicity. As long as he gets something, no matter how small, he will tweet it to kingdom come to impress his “base” or supporters. He will tout them as the biggest, the best and the most beautiful concessions ever in trade negotiations! His base will buy it for a few weeks or maybe months as they only watch Fox News and read his tweets. It is all a show, especially before the November 2018 mid-term elections with the likelihood that the Republicans will lose control of the House of Representatives.

Trade wars apparently erode trade cooperation, an important element that liberalism emphasizes for peace. Do you thing that trade war between US and EU will weaken liberal values?

If it becomes a full blown trade war, absolutely yes. But I also believe that if Trump last through his full term of four years, and especially if he gets re-elected, and if the Republicans continue to hold both houses of the US Congress, that liberal values will be eroded dramatically, with or without a trade war. Trump and Republican control are the real threats to liberal values around the world. 

Interview by: Javad Heirannia

MNA/TT

News Code 132824

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