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Britain’s finance minister warned that the world’s largest economy would be no exception to the catastrophic consequences of a full-blown trade war.
An escalating tit-for-tat trade dispute between the U.S. and several other major economies has rattled financial markets in recent days, as global investors fret over the wider economic fallout of President Donald Trump’s “America First” agenda.
“We live in uncertain times because the old certainty for many decades has been that the United States was completely wedded to open markets and free trade,” Philip Hammond told India’s CNBC-TV 18 on Tuesday.
“I very much hope that we can avoid a full scale trade war (because) that would be a disaster for everyone, not least for the United States,” he added.
The U.S. president ratcheted up the trade war rhetoric once again Monday, following Harley-Davidson’s decision to shift some of its production of motorcycles intended for European customers out of the U.S.
“Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the white flag,” Trump said via Twitter Monday, before adding: “I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the EU, which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 billion. Taxes just a Harley excuse - be patient!”
Wisconsin-based Harley-Davidson said increased costs from fresh global duties threatened the firm’s international sales, which it has been trying to expand.
Last week, the EU imposed retaliatory charges on U.S. goods, including motorcycles, bourbon and orange juice. The measures followed new U.S. charges on steel and aluminum imports.
“I would urge India also to think about opening its markets further, removing non-tariff barriers to encourage trade and stimulate competition which drives productivity and raises earnings and living standards,” Hammond said.