The State of the Transatlantic Trade Relationship

On October 24, we celebrated the seminar: “The state of the transatlantic trade relationship” in Madrid. Christy Agor, Economic Counselor of the US Embassy in Spain; Ruben Kubiak, Trade Affairs Officer of the European Commission; Joseph Quinlan, co-author of the annual report The Transatlantic Economy and Chief Market Strategist, US Trust Bank of America Private Wealth Management and Federico Steinberg, Senior Analyst at Elcano Royal Institute; participated as speakers at the event.


During her opening remarks, the Secretary of State for Global Spain, Irene Lozano, emphasized the importance of the transatlantic relationship in economic and political terms. In reference to the new Protocol to modify the Agreement to avoid Double Taxation between the United States and Spain that will “reinforce positive economic data”, improving the internationalization of Spanish companies. Nevertheless, the sanctions imposed by the US on the Spanish agricultural sector will add to other current challenges such as the regulation of the digital economy and the launch of 5G technology.


The following issues were discussed during the joint panel, moderated by Jorge Andreu, Director of Digital Development at ICEX: negotiations of a free trade agreement between the US and the EU, the Airbus-Boeing dispute and the tariffs imposed by the US to European products, the “trade war” between the US and China, as well as reform of the World Trade Organization.


Even though the speakers share different views over the issues addressed, there was a general agreement to refer to the Boeing-Airbus issue, as a “dispute” instead of a “trade war”. Steinberg remarked that “the only trade war that exists is between China and the US”, he also argued that the effect of the tariffs on the economy is not as worrying as the uncertainty it gives investors. In Quinlan’s opinion, the EU lacks leadership and it is quite possible that these tariffs are here to stay. On the other hand, Kubiak highlighted that President Trump “uses trade policies for other purposes” and argued that the trade relationship between the US and the EU is one of equals.


According to Agor, the tariffs “were not designed to harm the transatlantic relationship” but to put an end to the subsidies and somehow compensate for the losses incurred by the US due to the European subsidies provided to Airbus. The Economic Counselor, called for a more coordinated and strong position towards China, whose practices differ from other members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.


During the conversation between speakers, it was clear that “as long as the US and Europe continue arguing, the only winners will be the lawyers”. Furthermore, a united position in the face of the threat to the world economic order posed by China, is not only necessary but urgent.


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