Published: Sun, March 11, 2018
Sports | By Phillip Butler

Trump signs order on steel, aluminium tariffs

Trump signs order on steel, aluminium tariffs

The tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, proclaimed by Trump on Thursday during an event at the White House, appear to soften what the US president billed last week as a global, "no-exceptions" move to protect the two industries under a 1962 national security tradelaw.

"These so-called "flexible tariffs" are a marriage of two lethal poisons to economic growth - protectionism and uncertainty", Republican Senator Jeff Flake, who has become known for his denunciation of Trump over the past year, said in a statement immediately after Trump ordered the tariffs.

Before the Trump administration's Section-232 investigation, dozens of anti-dumping and countervailing measures had been imposed on nearly all iron and steel products, with some tariffs already nearly prohibitively high.

Trump cited the close relationship between the three countries, including national security ties, as justification for the decision.

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

She said her meeting with Mr Lighthizer, the USA trade representative, was scheduled "many months ago" to address, among other things, global steel overcapacity.

Trump signaled other trade actions could be in the works.

Australia's trade minister said he had preliminary discussions with the USA trade representative, Robert Lighthizer.

Trump's decision comes amid another week of chaos for the White House, not only because of the departure of economic adviser Gary Cohn (who opposed the tariffs), but also because many Republican figures are concerned that this will start an global trade war that could hurt the country.

The official, who was not authorized to discuss internal deliberations and spoke on the condition of anonymity, said an announcement on the findings of the report - and possible retaliatory actions - was expected within the next three weeks.

Top trading partners the European Union and Brazil also launched broadsides against the tariffs, which are worth billions of dollars. Cohn, the former president of Goldman Sachs, was Trump's director of the National Economic Council and widely seen as a connection between Trump's administration and Wall Street.

"First we want to utilize all the capacity we have", Newport said.

While the confusing manner in which the President made this decision has done little to reassure American workers or calm worldwide tensions, I believe that we must protect the livelihoods of domestic steel and aluminum workers.

Though primarily targeted at the massive steel and aluminium dumping by China, only two countries – Canada and Mexico – have been exempted from the new import tariff, that too till the time the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) negotiations are complete.

Lawmakers opposed to the tariffs, including House Speaker Paul Ryan and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, have suggested more narrowly focused approaches to target Chinese imports.

Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican, said he plans to introduce legislation next week to nullify the tariffs though he has acknowledged that finding the votes to stop the president's actions could be hard.

Republicans have been pushing Trump to back off his planned tariffs since he shocked the party last week by announcing they were coming. "The difficulty is so far I haven't persuaded him", Alexander said.

"I want to tell them that falling to exchanges of unilateral measures will not be in the interest of any country", Seko said, in an apparent reference to the European Union, which has suggested retaliatory taxes in response to the US tariff imposition.

CGTN's Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Carlo Dade, director for the Trade and Investment Centre at the Canada West Foundation about USA steel and aluminum tariffs, and the signing of CPTPP.

The bloc had already threatened reprisals in the event of tariffs being imposed, warning it would respond to higher charges with tit-for-tat measures on a range of United States products including jeans, orange juice and even Harley Davidson motorbikes.

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