Former U.S. Ambassador Says Trade War with EU a “Mistake”

The United States and China finally seem to be approaching an end in their trade war and nearing the conclusion of a trade deal, but many experts now fear that it would mean the U.S. is to be embroiled in a new trade conflict with the European Union.

Their worries are not unfounded, however, and stem in part from the U.S.’ recent clash with the union on Huawei’s role in the development of 5G technology. The Trump administration has multiple times accused Huawei of spying, threatening to impose fresh sanctions on European imports as a result of these disagreements.

But Anthony Gardner, a former U.S. ambassador to the EU, stressed that such a move would be a mistake.

“That would be a mistake, if that is the position that Washington is going to take, that is a mistake. And the fundamental reason is that when you look at our common concerns — the U.S. and European concerns about China — we probably agree on 90 percent,” he said for CNBC during the Credit Suisse Global Supertrends Conference in Singapore.

President Donald Trump had allegedly pressed European allies to ban the Chinese tech giant from building 5G infrastructure, which could be used for espionage. However, countries like Germany have refused to exclude Huawei from their national plans for the 5G technology.

Trump has also deemed the EU a “brutal trading partner,” a label Gardner lamented, saying that the U.S. should not see the union as its foe. The former ambassador pointed out that the two economies should work together even more, especially when it comes to tackling concerns about China’s trading practices.

Gardner further noted that the U.S. and the EU agree on the majority of issues, especially in terms of China, which needs to halt some practices such as forced transfer of technology from foreign firms to their Chinese partners.

“We agree on 90 percent” of the issues about China, Gardner said. “What we should be doing is work with the EU more, not threatening the EU saying we’re going to put tariffs,” he added.

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