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Europe Needs Common Front Against Trump's Bullying On Trade

Trump signs steel tariffs in Washington on March 8
Trump signs steel tariffs in Washington on March 8
Alexander Mühlauer


MUNICHDonald Trump may have extended the grace period by one month, but make no mistake about it, he's still holding a gun to Europe's head in the tariffs dispute. The EU shouldn't have any illusions: To get what he wants, Trump will continue his attempted extortion. And why not? It's worked elsewhere, after all.

It's high time, therefore, to find a European response to this wild-west policy approach. And if this doesn't succeed, the sheriff in the White House certainly won't shy away from a trade war in which there will only be losers in the end.

Europeans can't say they weren't warned. Already when Trump visited the EU and NATO, a year ago, he brought two clear messages with him. The first was that the German trade surplus is too high. That second, that the allies should, as agreed, spend more money on defense. The messages haven't changed since then. The Europeans — especially Germany — wanted to wait and see if Trump would put his threat to operation and actually impose import tariffs on goods from Europe.

Since the U.S. President heralded the customs countdown, the unrest has been huge. Trump's flimsy justification that Europeans were endangering U.S. national security with their steel and aluminum products is pure protectionism and nothing can justify it. But that's not Trump's point. He doesn't care about the rules of the World Trade Organization. The government in Washington made it clear in talks with the EU that it wants to use the tariffs threat as a lever to push down other trade restrictions — especially European import tariffs on U.S. cars.

Anything else would be seen as a sign of weakness.

The EU must adopt a twin-track strategy: be constructive in its approach, but also tough. In the case of the heavy tariffs threat on steel and aluminum, Europeans must not deviate from their position. Anything else would be seen as a sign of weakness and would only validate Trump's worldview. So if the U.S. president imposes tariffs in a month's time, the EU will have to take lawful retaliatory measures. These include tariffs on American products, which have a certain symbolic value and hit those states where Trump's allies are in charge: jeans, bourbon and Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Still, it would be better if it didn't come to that at all. The EU must therefore no longer allow itself to be backed into a corner by Trump, but rather make a proposal for a bilateral agreement itself. This is all the more true given how Washington didn't bite on Europe's offer to take joint action against China (Trump prefers to go it alone).

Europe should admit to Trump that he's quite right.

That won't do it. And so the EU must rely on dialogue. Europe should admit to Trump that he's quite right in his criticism. This applies in particular to the German trade surplus, which was a thorn in the side of past U.S. presidents as well. A comprehensive agreement such as the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership in unrealistic. But a deal could be reached in the form of a contract covering certain sectors.

This would already be difficult enough for the EU because the interests of Germany (cars) and France (agriculture) — to mention just two of the Union's member states — are extremely different. But there's one thing that the Europeans must not allow to happen under any circumstances: let Trump divide them.

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The Unsustainable Future Of Fish Farming — On Vivid Display In Turkish Waters

Currently, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming, compared to just 10% two decades ago. The short-sightedness of this shift risks eliminating fishing output from both the farms and the open seas along Turkey's 5,200 miles of coastline.

Photograph of two fishermen throwing a net into the Tigris river in Turkey.

Traditional fishermen on the Tigris river, Turkey.

Dûrzan Cîrano/Wikimeidia
İrfan Donat

ISTANBUL — Turkey's annual fish production includes 515,000 tons from cultivation and 335,000 tons came from fishing in open waters. In other words, 60% of Turkey's fish currently comes from cultivation, also known as fish farming.

It's a radical shift from just 20 years ago when some 600,000 tons, or 90% of the total output, came from fishing. Now, researchers are warning the current system dominated by fish farming is ultimately unsustainable in the country with 8,333 kilometers (5,177 miles) long.

Professor Mustafa Sarı from the Maritime Studies Faculty of Bandırma 17 Eylül University believes urgent action is needed: “Why were we getting 600,000 tons of fish from the seas in the 2000’s and only 300,000 now? Where did the other 300,000 tons of fish go?”

Professor Sarı is challenging the argument from certain sectors of the industry that cultivation is the more sustainable approach. “Now we are feeding the fish that we cultivate at the farms with the fish that we catch from nature," he explained. "The fish types that we cultivate at the farms are sea bass, sea bram, trout and salmon, which are fed with artificial feed produced at fish-feed factories. All of these fish-feeds must have a significant amount of fish flour and fish oil in them.”

That fish flour and fish oil inevitably must come from the sea. "We have to get them from natural sources. We need to catch 5.7 kilogram of fish from the seas in order to cultivate a sea bream of 1 kg," Sarı said. "Therefore, we are feeding the fish to the fish. We cannot cultivate fish at the farms if the fish in nature becomes extinct. The natural fish need to be protected. The consequences would be severe if the current policy is continued.”

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