How Trade Wars Begin – The New York Times

The Trump administration this week raised fears of a trade war after it authorized a series of tariffs explicitly — and implicitly — aimed at China.

Tariffs, and the specter of trade wars, are nothing new.

The United States and the European Union spent much of the 1990s fighting over bananas. Threats and tariffs flew back and forth across the Atlantic. What had started with a call for free trade in bananas by Costa Rica, in 1991, escalated into an all-out battle between two of the world’s economic superpowers.

At the time, the so-called banana wars were seen as a test of the sustainability of the newly formed World Trade Organization, as Europe and the United States fought over whether Europe could give preferential treatment to bananas imported from former colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and Pacific regions.

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