BUSINESS

Greek experts warn of trade war impact

MARIA SPILIOPOULOU

Constantinos Michalos (left) and Vassilis Korkidis

TAGS: Economy, Diplomacy

The US government's recent decision to impose tariffs on imports from China and the trade tensions between the world's two largest economies will not benefit anyone, Greek experts told Xinhua on Wednesday.

US President Donald Trump signed last week a memorandum opening the way to impose tariffs on up to $60 billion of imports from China and restrictions on Chinese investment in the United States.

The announcement sent markets across the world sliding to the red, reflecting widespread concern over the repercussions on global economy.

"US-Chinese commercial warfare will not be to the benefit of anyone since the victims will be many, particularly world trade and sea-going merchant shipping, while even the metal commodities have been affected, since their prices have been cut over the last few weeks," Vassilis Korkidis, president of the Hellenic Confederation of Commerce and Entrepreneurship (ESEE) and the Piraeus Chamber of Commerce and Industry (PCCI), said.

Despite initial fears of retaliation by the United States, EU countries were excluded from US tariffs. President Donald Trump left Europe out of this conflict, Korkidis noted.

But in his opinion, no one can really be exempt from the impact of a trade war between the world's first and second economies.

"The phrase that comes to my mind is 'when buffaloes are fighting by the lake, frogs pay the price,'" he said.

Constantinos Michalos, president of the Athens Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ACCI) and the Central Union of Greek Chambers of Commerce, shared the view that a US-China trade war will harm global economy.

"The series of trade measures against China announced in the past days by the United States is a step backwards in global trade, while at the same time encapsulates risks for an escalation of a trade war between the two most powerful countries, the United States and China, triggering negative developments globally," Michalos said in a written statement to Xinhua.

"At a time extremely difficult for the international economy, each move made on the world chessboard should be studied with great care," he added.

In this context, the new decree signed by President Trump should be put up for consultation between the two countries so as to minimize the duties on imports of Chinese products to the United States, the Greek business leader suggested, pointing to the image of the stock markets last week which were pushed into the red due to fears of retaliation from China.

"In any case, there is still room for rational resolution of any problems that obscure the trade relations of the two countries, which will undoubtedly, should they worsen, they will have a negative impact on global economy, and of course on the European Union," Michalos underlined.

Odin Linardatou, director of Foreign Affairs of Greek socio-liberal party To Potami, believes that the US government's policy will leave nobody unaffected.

"Can the US President Donald Trump win a trade war against China? For many years, Donald Trump has argued that Chinese trade is a threat to the United States. And he does not hesitate to claim that China is using unfair methods that are supposed to be harming the US economy. The truth is very different," Linardatou told Xinhua in a written comment.

In fact to each US company that is in favor of Trump's duties on Chinese products, there are another 3,000 US companies that fully disagree with the US president's tariff policy, she noted.

"What Donald Trump cannot understand is that free trade is significantly helping to improve people's living standards globally," she stressed, referring to a remark made by Steve Odland, CEO of the Washington-based think tank "Committee for Economic Development" that the United States needs the financial products of other countries.

"We account for just 5 percent of the world's population and our open markets allow us to also sell our products to the rest of the 95 percent and thus to expand our economy," Odland has commented.

In the eyes of Linardatou, a trade war will have only losers.

"There is no way to impose heavy tariffs on up to $60 billion of imports from China without having extremely negative consequences for the citizens of the United States," Linardatou warned.

[Xinhua]

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