At a recent private luncheon, a European leader was asked if he thought the difficulties in Northern Ireland could lead to a trade war. “Yes”. The possibility of a major deterioration in trade relations between the European Union and the United Kingdom is increasing.
It is being debated whether the UK is making unilateral changes to the Brexit agreement on Northern Ireland and whether these moves are considered illegal.
Herbert Deiss, the chief executive of Europe’s largest carmaker Volkswagen, said he had recently held high-level talks with the British ambassador to Berlin about the possibility of a trade war between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
“There’s a lot of communication. And there’s an addiction.”, he told me. “We have a British brand, Bentley, which is doing extremely well … the UK is also the largest export market in Europe for premium brands for VW and Audi … so I think there will be, say, a mutual interest now. to maintain [comerţul] open”.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said trade wars were a “a situation in which everyone has something to lose “ He suggested that the key antagonism on which he was trying to find a compromise was between Paris and London.
Britain has announced plans to drop certain parts of the EU’s Brexit deal. “We don’t want a UK-EU trade war” says the Irish Prime Minister
“We will try to calm the situation between France and the United Kingdom as much as possible, because I believe that only Putin and our enemies will be satisfied with another disagreement between such close partners as the United Kingdom and the European Union.”. he said.
Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin said that “We hope that such a fate will be avoided because a trade war would be shocking and useless.”
Asked if the EU is preparing lists of goods from the UK against which to impose tariffs, Martin said: “It simply came to our notice then. We hope that this will not be the case. For now, I’m just saying, and I’ve said constantly, get down there, get into the tunnel, the UK and EU government, negotiate and bring the technocrats there. “.
In the weeks that followed, Irish diplomats marched through the corridors of Europe, warning of what they considered a “bottom line” in EU-UK relations and saying that Berlin and Paris supported a strong response.
In recent trade wars with the United States during Donald Trump’s presidency, for example, the EU (with the United Kingdom as a member at the time) focused on retaliation against American Harley Davidson motorcycles, Levi’s jeans and Jack Daniel’s whiskey, and Florida orange juice.
The United States, in turn, focused on Britain’s famous exports of cashmere and whiskey. All have been deliberately chosen to maximize political pressure and headaches in the swing states. The equivalent process for the UK could focus on car exports from the North East, fishing and agricultural exports.
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