EU economic health at risk as U.S. trade war looms

The European Commission on Thursday warned growth in the European Union is expected to remain robust in 2018, although global trade tensions with the United States present an “unambiguously’’ negative risk.

“Economic growth is expected to fall slightly to 2.3 per cent of gross domestic product this year, after reaching a 10-year-high of 2.4 per cent in 2017,’’ EU Economy Commissioner Pierre Moscovici warned.

Officials have been warning that now is the time to press ahead with economic reforms before the next downturn strikes.

“The biggest risk to this rosy outlook is protectionism, which must not become the new normal," Moscovici stressed.

U.S. President Donald Trump has rattled global markets with measures aimed at protecting U.S. industry, notably his decision to introduce steel and aluminium import tariffs.

“An escalation of trade protectionism presents an unambiguously negative risk to the global economic outlook.

“The EU is negotiating with Washington to secure a permanent exemption from the tariffs, but the impact on other exporting nations, such as China, could still harm Europe’s economy,’’ the commission warned.

According to the commission, employment in the eurozone is at its highest since the launch of the common currency.

“Meanwhile, for the first time since the introduction of common budget rules, all eurozone states are expected to keep their deficit below the EU-mandated ceiling of 3 per cent of GDP.

“Other risks to the bloc’s economy include global geopolitical tensions and the uncertain outcome of negotiations on Britain’s departure from the EU,’’ the bloc’s executive noted. (dpa/NAN)
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