Trade ministers concerned over US trade policy

EU trade ministers gathered in Malta on Friday to discuss the protectionist trend the United States seems to be adopting. The latest news is that the US administration has vowed to prioritize its trade rules over World Trade Organization rules and threatened to withdraw from the WTO dispute settlement system.

Talking to the newspaper Dagens Nyheter, Swedish minister Ann Linde says the EU must take action, if the US chooses to ignore the rules. Despite the risks, countermeasures may be necessary, she says.

Ann Linde expects a reaction from other countries as well, including China. This could result in a trade war, but the minister’s hope is that it will be possible to have a discussion with Washington.

Linde concerned

On Thursday afternoon Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto announced that he would not attend a meeting with US President Donald Trump. His move was a response to a planned border wall between the two countries, and the question of who would pay for it.

For every day that passes Professor Henrik Horn of the Research Institute of Industrial Economics (IFN) is more and more convinced that Donald Trump intends to realise his trade threats, and that there is a real risk of a trade war, reports Dagens Industri.

Trade Minister Ann Linde (S) is also concerned, saying trade patterns will “deteriorate” when the international rules for global trade are called into question.

However, the minister is keen that Sweden should have good relations with the US, pointing out that Swedish companies employ 330,000 people and is one of the largest investors per capita in the US.

Meanwhile, Anna Stellinger, director general of the National Board of Trade Sweden (Kommerskollegium), fears Donald Trump’s trade action could have direct and indirect impact on Swedish exports and companies.

“The US is our second most important export country in terms of services, and the third most important for exports of goods,” she says, emphasising that 140,000 jobs in Sweden are dependent on US exports.

Unofficial meeting at Steninge palace

One month ago US and North Korean diplomats met at Steninge palace on the outskirts of Sigtuna. The meeting, which the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) helped organise, has been kept secret from the Swedish media.

However, according to information in the South Korean press ahead of the meeting, Pyongyang was expected to send Han Song Ryol, the head of the US desk at the North Korean foreign ministry, and the US was expected to send Thomas Pickering, former US under-secretary of state for political affairs during the Clinton administration.