The first salvoes in a trade war between the United States and China have been exchanged, with the imposition by both of tariffs totalling approximately $100 billion (around Dh367 billion), and they follow weeks of talks that failed to de-escalate the concerns of the White House administration.

This is indeed a worrying development between the world’s largest economy and its nearest competitor.

Clearly, both nations are acting from positions of strength, with US President Donald Trump prompted into action by what he considers to be China’s unfair practices and its intellectual theft of US technologies.

Indeed, from his earliest days on the campaign trail to taking over the Oval Office, he has made no secret of his intent to take trade and other measures to protect American jobs and technologies — and Beijing has always been in his sights.

The imposition of tariffs on both sides could be followed by similar retaliatory measures, and there is also the prospect too of other tariffs being applied on Canadian, Mexican and European goods and products — with similar counter measures.

What is clear is that we are no longer in an expansionist era of globalisation, where products can be moved with ease from one side of the globe to the other. What is clear too is that this liberalisation of trade has led to unparalleled and sustained economic growth.

The lessons of history tell us that just as sure as day follows night and that markets go up and down, protectionism and free trade ebb and wane. This is but a temporary phase, one that has been expected and therefore one whose effects are not unexpected. And this too shall pass.