Global security is about more than military matters, and this week there was a development on the trade front that may have security implications. European Union officials imposed preemptive penalties on imports of Chinese steel pipes to prevent harm to indigenous producers. In the past, E.U. trade officials usually waited for proof of actual damage before acting. This move could signal weakened support for free trade, which has been a cornerstone in efforts to construct a more open, post-cold-war global economy. China’s steel industry has been a big beneficiary of falling trade barriers — it produced five times more steel than the U.S. industry in 2008 — but now the losers are starting to push back.
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