Trump's 'blanket' steel-import tariff now more like a shawl

The Associated Press

Few details have emerged from the White House over the scope and timing of Trump's tariffs - 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium - after a surprise announcement by the president last week.

Counter-measures would include European tariffs on USA oranges, tobacco and bourbon, he said.

Commenting on the USA policy, Canadian experts said while the temporary exemption granted to Canada will render Canadian-made steel and aluminum products a lower-price advantage, it is also a clear bargaining tool for Trump to pressure Canada in the ongoing NAFTA talks. Along with the USA, the two nations make up the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is largely aimed at stemming such punitive tariffs.

But at the same time, Trump said he was delaying imposing the tariffs on Canada and Mexico until the conclusion of discussions on NAFTA.

"The declining steel capacity utilization rate is not economically sustainable", the U.S. Department of Commerce found in its report.

Steel tariffs will inflict damage on a range of US industries that use steel as a key component in their final products.

Republicans say they fear the move could dampen the positive economic effects from the GOP's $1.5 trillion tax-cut law, which they're featuring as a key part of their 2018 midterm strategy.

"We understand the administration has good intent, and they're trying to solve a particular problem", he said.

"Tariffs can be an appropriate punitive tool when people are cheating the system, however, I'm not sure the administration has thought this through", he said.

Trump has championed coal exports as demand from power firms at home weakens. We just want fairness because we have not been treated fairly by other countries, ? he said.

"Tariffs won't start a trade war, there's 435 of them in place today to fight trade cheaters".


Many observers take a dimmer view of the six-month-old talks, saying little progress has been made and the negotiations are stalled over issues such as autos.

Some Trump aides and Republican lawmakers are making a final push to stop the tariffs.

"Taxes on steel and aluminum will be withdrawn only if a new agreement is signed", he said earlier on Twitter, reiterating his conviction that the United States has "large trade deficits" with its two neighbors. Despite this fact, the US president frequently says that Canada is taking advantage of the USA and that the Americans are the ones with the deficit.

The President also said other countries will be able to apply for exemptions based on their contributions to US national security and how much they pay into alliances such as North Atlantic Treaty Organisation.

"The biggest priority as a Congressman representing New Mexico is ensuring our local businesses are not adversely impacted by what the finalized package of tariffs includes and how it is applied", Pearce said.

It could also significantly increase the cost of road and bridge construction and hobble the administration's plans for an infrastructure initiative. "China would have to make a justified and necessary response".

"We also make steel for the American military programme so it's doubly absurd that we should then be caught on an investigation on national security".

General Motors, which purchases over 90 percent of the steel used for US production from USA suppliers, said Thursday it was encouraged by the temporary exemption for Canada and Mexico. "NAFTA, which is under renegotiation right now, has been a bad deal for U.S.A".

The European Union is raising the stakes for the Trump administration with tit-for-tat tariffs of 25% to hit $3.5 billion of USA goods.

"We hope that we can get confirmation that the EU is excluded from this", European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem told policy makers, experts and reporters at an event in Brussels.

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