The U.S.'s decision to impose new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has led to a discrepancy between the two fronts of the Atlantic region. While it is well known that this decision concerns the European Union, it also affected other countries such as Mexico, Canada and Japan. The title of the editorial released on the anti-tariff decision in the New York Times on Thursday, "America declares war on its friends," sums up the much-debated decision.
The EU has naturally showed a great reaction against Washington's decision. EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said, "The U.S. now leaves us with no choice but to proceed with a WTO [World Trade Organization] dispute settlement case and with the imposition of additional duties on a number of imports from the U.S."
"What they can do, we're able to do exactly the same," he added.
The decision by Washington under the leadership of President Donald Trump seems to have already triggered a global trade war. It is safe to say that the U.S. is looking for ways not to be affected badly by the problematic global economy and seems that it is trying to adjust its policy to protectionism. However, this axis shift in its policy is not something of President Trump's term. Prominent Turkey-based think tank, the Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA) re-released a report, "New Protectionism and Trade Wars," to clarify the ongoing developments. According to the report, the developed countries such as the U.S. and U.K. adopted the policy of "make your neighbor poor and rich yourself" after the Great Depression in 1929 and took some protectionist measures to avoid the consequences of the crisis. The report also reveals that the former President Barack Obama administration initiated this axis shift in U.S. policy. According to the report, what triggered the trade war is the Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 by the U.S.
However, this is not what I actually want to express here. In my previous column, I said that a renewal in the Turkish-EU relations is at the door after the June 24 elections in Turkey and this is because of Washington's unilateralism that leads a new rapprochement between Ankara and Brussels. The current trade war between Washington and Brussels once again proves how the EU and Turkey need each other.
Well, are the policymakers of Brussels and Ankara aware of this mutual necessity? We witnessed a development last week showing that the two are well aware of the conjuncture. Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu went to Germany last Tuesday and met German Chancellor Angela Merkel in a commemoration ceremony. Following the meeting, Foreign Minister Çavuşoğlu said that Chancellor Merkel invited President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan to visit Germany after the June 24 elections. It was a really good and positive attempt to boost bilateral ties. Well, will it continue?
According to some diplomatic sources, the answer is yes. The biggest conflict between Turkey and Germany, i.e. Ankara and Brussels, is Berlin's inaction to extradite some Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) members, the perpetrators of the bloody July 15 coup attempt, who escaped from Turkey to Germany in the aftermath of the coup. According to the same diplomatic sources, Germany will take a significant step on this issue that is closely watched by Turkey. The formula is clear: If Germany extradites the FETÖ members already requested by Turkey, bilateral ties can immediately get back on track.