Trade Conflict and the U.S.-European Union Economic Relationship [Updated April 11, 2007]   [open pdf - 191KB]

From the Summary: "The United States and the European Union (EU) share a huge, dynamic, and mutually beneficial economic partnership. Not only is the U.S.-EU trade and investment relationship the largest in the world, but it is also arguably the most important. Agreement between the two partners in the past has been critical to making the world trading system more open and efficient. Given the high level of U.S.-EU commercial interactions, trade tensions and disputes are not unexpected. In the past, U.S.-EU trade relations have witnessed periodic episodes of rising trade tensions and conflicts, only to be followed by successful efforts at dispute settlement. This ebb and flow of trade tensions occurred again in 2006 with high-profile disputes involving the Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations and production subsidies for the commercial aircraft sector. […] These three categories of trade conflicts -- traditional, foreign policy, and regulatory -- possess varied potential for future trade conflict. This is due mostly to the fact that bilateral and multilateral agreements governing the settlement of disputes affect each category of disputes differently. By providing a fairly detailed map of permissible actions and obligations, trade agreements can dampen the inclination of governments to supply protection and private sector parties to demand protection. In sum, U.S.-EU bilateral trade conflicts do not appear to be as ominous and threatening as the media often portray, but they are not ephemeral distractions either. Rather they appear to have real, albeit limited, economic and political consequences for the bilateral relationship. From an economic perspective, the disputes may also be weakening efforts of the two partners to provide strong leadership to the global trading system."

Report Number:
CRS Report for Congress, RL30732
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