Brussels, 16 January 2020 - It’s incredible how timely US, China and EU have set their, respective, future trade policies and agreements.


While Trump was shaking hands with Chinese vice premier Liu He in Washington, ending the war tariffs started in 2018, von der Leyen was in Strasbourg announcing the Green Deal, a set of commitments to ending CO2 emission by 2050 which will soon will be enshrined in law.


On the trade chapter of the document outlining the Green Deal, it is clearly stated that “the EU’s most recent agreements all include a binding commitment of the Parties to ratify and effectively implement the Paris Agreement. The Commission will propose to make the respect of the Paris agreement an essential element for all future comprehensive trade agreements”.


As Trump announced US withdrawal from the Paris climate agreement and this will become effective next 4th November 2020 (the day after US presidential elections), the States would have been cut out from relevant trade agreements if it wouldn’t have been for the timely-strategic-preemptive-foxy trade deal with the unregulated China.


Just figure out what could have happened if Potus hadn’t come out of the blue with his cheering American style ‘let’s get over it’ in a unexpected coup de théâtre: a disaster.


An ongoing trade war with China might have put at risk his presidential campaign (just in case he would survive the impeachment trial). Why? Because, yes, Americans are seduced by Trump’s ‘America first’ mantra, but for sure aren’t prepared to support an economic isolationism which would lead to an ‘America last’ mantra.


To avert the risk of loosing the elections Trump played the Xi card (a bit of a jolly joker); yes there’s the chance to re-enter the Paris climate agreements after November 4th 2020, but this chance wouldn’t have been sustainable in an electoral campaign leaving the ground to Michael Bloomberg, Joe Biden and the other Democrats candidates to smash him down with the argument of an America with no trade deals either with the EU or China.


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EU Commission President Ursula von der Leyen /Photo © EU Commission 2020

US President Donald Trump /Photo © 2020

The historic deal Washington-Beijing is partial, so far, and its 'phase two' will have to be agreed over 2021. A chance for Trump to play one more winning card to re-enter the White House.

On the EU side the Green Deal will inevitably give way to a legally grounded protectionism: any potential partners will have to commit to a strict compliance of

emissions reduction plan and manufacturing rules applied accordingly to environmental standards: meaning the EU will easily export and costly import.


Whether, as many economist forecast, manufacturing will relocate outside the EU in order to keep the costs low by non respecting sustainability laws (included workers' rights) it’s something we will have to see the scale of.


For now the EU put in place a long term change impacting geopolitical economics and not just production chains, our way to consume, individual and collective education and ethical standards. And all this will be enforced: “The Commission has also been stepping up efforts to implement and enforce the sustainable development commitments of EU trade agreements, and these efforts will be further enhanced with the appointment of a Chief Trade Enforcement Officer”, the Commission says in its official document.

Justine de Braeme

Unregulated Beijing gives Trump hope 

as EU 'Green Deal' makes Paris Agreements a must for trade