ALTHOUGH any form of trade wars is unwelcome it has been somewhat amusing to watch the reaction by the EU, specifically Germany, to the United States tariffs on steel and aluminium imports (“Index falls on fears tariffs will spark trade war”, The Herald, March 3).

Initially we were told by the EU that it would have minimal impact, then we were told it could have serious consequences; so much so that we had Cecilia Malmstrom, European Commissioner for Trade, declare at a hastily convened press conference that the EU had produced a list of US goods that would be subjected to tariffs if Donald Trump went ahead with his threat.

The US President hit back and said he would put a tariff on German cars if they reciprocated as there was a 10% tariff on US car imports to the EU and only 2.5% on German cars exported to America.

Yesterday we learned that Mr Trump wasn’t bluffing and he signed the necessary order but with a twist. If he got a “good trade deal” under the North American Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) he would drop the steel and aluminium tariff; no such luck for the EU.

Ms Malmstrom has popped up again and declared that the EU didn’t want a trade war and would try and secure exemption; fat chance without a cost.

Like the UK, the US suffers a massive and unsustainable imbalance of trade with Germany plus it refuses to pay its membership fee for Nato; surprising as Germany such a stickler for rules.

In the middle of all the turmoil we have a rather strained looking Donald Tusk, President of the European Council, announcing that the EU could offer the UK a trade deal on goods covering all sectors with zero tariffs and no quotas but no such deal on services.

Few surprises there, simply because the EU has a massive surplus on goods and deficit in services. The good news is that the EU has exposed its hand showing its vulnerability to tariffs on goods into the UK.

I have no doubt that the UK (like Australia) would have been exempt from the newly announced tariffs if we had been outside the EU. Clearly the direction of travel is for bilateral and not multilateral trade deals (too many moving parts) spearheaded by the US.

Ian Lakin,


Murtle Den Road,



THE SNP feeds off grievances. It needs something to girn about as much as the rest of us need air to breath. Usually its grievances are imaginary, or at least based on the most trivial matter blown out of all proportion.

But, from time to time, the Nationalists are given a genuine grievance. At present, we need look no further than the Westminster Government and its plans for powers to be returned from the EU after Brexit as the provider of that grievance.

The UK single market is going to be vital for Scotland and the rest of the UK. Co-operation between Westminster and Holyrood (and Cardiff and Belfast where relevant) will be needed over how we all make the products we want to sell each other.

But this has to be done with the agreement of all parties. Giving Westminster the power to impose rules governing devolved matters would not only undermine the principles of the devolution settlement; it would also give the SNP a genuine grievance to exploit.

No doubt David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, will assure us that there is no intention to impose anything on Scotland.

But would Mr Mundell survive the reshuffle that would follow the replacement of Theresa May as Prime Minister by a hard-line, right-wing Tory in the mould of Jacob Rees Mogg?

If the Tories proceed as planned, Holyrood would be powerless to stop a deregulating Westminster sweeping away our environmental and employment protections.

The result would be a gift to the SNP. And it would be a disaster for the many Scots who despair at the damage nationalism, whether of the Scottish or British-Tory variety, causes to a liberal society and to international co-operation.

Mr Mundell must persuade Mrs May to amend the Brexit Bill to remove Westminster’s power to impose changes on devolved matters without Scottish consent.

Alistair Easton

6 Glencairn Crescent,


WE are used to hearing interminable party-political bickering, especially about Brexit, but can I suggest a more fundamental reason for the shambles that we find ourselves in?

Several years ago many of the Scottish electorate abandoned traditional party loyalties in favour of the utopia of nationalism.

They were, of course, perfectly entitled to do so but one result was a Tory-dominated government whose prime minister, running scared of the perceived threat from Ukip, called a referendum on the EU that he thought was sure to produce a Remain vote.

So we are left with watching the UK and Scottish governments seemingly spending most of their time wading through the morass that is the Brexit negotiations. I could also mention austerity ...

William Campbell,

59 Woodhead Avenue,


DAVID Pratt’s main criticism of the foreign policy of the UK Government seems to be the unwillingness to change the largely unregulated competitive behaviour in the world (“UK foreign policy: Impotent and mercenary at same time”, The Herald, March 9).

Any existing checks and balances can be ignored, including international law.

But isn’t the Westminster Government simply being allowed to act in a similar, unconstrained way as other nations. There are almost 200 in the world?

Where does real power lie? In global finance. A few days ago we heard that 120 to 130 countries count China as their number-one trading partner.

So, unless global finance can be well regulated or free money is issued by the United Nations system for what can be agreed as global public goods (Keynes once suggested something like this, but was overruled), we’ll soon be adhering to China’s rules - in the same way as we did with American rules after the Second World War.

At present, the G20, resurrected after the financial crisis of 2008, repeatedly refuses requests for the audit of trillions of dollars of funds stewarded by governments.

The next hegemon is likely to be Africa.

Ian Jenkins,

7 Spruce Avenue,