Trump imposes new steel, aluminum tariffs via proclamation

Elias Hubbard
Марта 10, 2018

Earlier this week, Trudeau called U.S. President Donald Trump to talk about the president's vow to impose steep tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.

The people briefed on the plans said all countries affected by the tariffs would be invited to negotiate with the Trump administration to be exempted from the tariffs if they can address the threat their exports pose to US manufacturers.

The former real estate developer said USA politicians had for years lamented the decline in the steel and aluminum industries but no one before him was willing to take action.

Trump drew on rarely used national security grounds to place a 25 percent tax on steel imports and a 10 percent tax on imported aluminum. The exemptions for Canada and Mexico, which are temporary, were also seen as being prompted part by the North American Free Trade Agreement talks, where USA negotiations could use the prospect of making them permanent as a bargaining chip.

Cities could face similar problems if they are heavily dependent on exports or if their economies rely on cheaper steel and aluminum prices. He has tried to use the tariffs as leverage in ongoing talks to renegotiate NAFTA, suggesting Canada and Mexico might be exempted from tariffs if they offer more favorable terms under the trade agreement.

One issue to be addressed is whether the shipment of steel from Canada or Mexico that originated in another country will be expressly prohibited.

Susan Collins responded to the new tariffs with statement saying, "I share the President's belief that there have been many poorly negotiated trade agreements that have harmed manufacturing jobs in Maine and across our country". The tariffs, not yet officially signed, will take effect 15 days after they are signed.

Congress plans to hold hearings on the issue and some Republicans plan to introduce legislation to nullify the tariffs.

Other countries seeking exemptions from the tariffs will have to make their case through U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, but the president will make the ultimate decision, a senior administration official told reporters Thursday.

"He's already indicated a degree of flexibility, I think a very sensible, very balanced degree of flexibility", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC.

Democratic Sen. Dick Durbin of IL said Trump's action was "like dropping a bomb on a flea" and could carry "huge unintended consequences for American manufacturers who depend on imported materials". "Do you know quite how much US steel Canada buys?" said another person familiar with Canada's lobbying effort.

Analysts predict there will be net job losses for the U.S., as steel-and aluminium-consuming industries face higher costs.

The new tariffs are met with sharp criticism.

Ahead of the news that trickled out from the White House in the last hour and a half of the trading day, the S&P had zig-zagged in a tight range between positive and negative territory as investors were uncertain about what Trump would say.

The British government said tariffs "are not the right way to address the global problem of overcapacity" and said it would work with European Union partners "to consider the scope for exemptions outlined today".

The Trudeau government has been lobbying aggressively for Canada to be excluded from the tariffs, but there have been conflicting signals from the White House about the possibility of any exemptions.

She also recoils at the President's comment that a trade war "could be good" for the U.S.

Shortly after Trump announced the tariffs, his top economic advisor, Gary Cohn, announced his resignation [WaPo report].

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