Canada dodges tariff bullet, at least for now

10 March, 2018, 03:08 | Author: Orlando Hughes
  • Donald Trump

President Donald Trump signed proclamations Thursday slapping USA tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum from nearly every country, with the penalties snapping into effect in 15 days.

The Trump administration has announced that it will exclude Mexico and Canada from the tough tariffs on aluminum and steel, although they will both lose the exemption if they don't reach a new agreement with NAFTA. "We are deadly serious" about solving what the USA sees as unfair trade in steel and aluminum.

Steel imports will be hit with a 25% tariff and aluminum imports with a 10% tariff.

"Argentine exports represent only 0.6 percent of steel and 2.3 percent of aluminum of all U.S. imports in both sectors, and therefore Argentina does not cause nor contribute to the distortions that affect the world markets and the USA", the ministry said.

"A skilled, trained workforce in steel is a crucial element of America's national security and must be protected", Trump said.

Mr. Trump is expected to make the official announcement on his tariff decisions later in the day, but teased his moves during a meeting with his Cabinet.

Stressing the need for "flexibility" while protecting the country's national security, Trump also said that other countries could negotiate bilaterally with the United States to get exemptions and reductions in their tariff rates.

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"Many of the countries that treat us the worst on trade and on military are our allies", Trump said. Or we'll just do it a different way.

In an attempt to soften Chinese reactions by expressing that the move is created to achieve fair and reciprocal trade, rather than kick starting global trade wars, top figures from the US economy and commerce bureaucracy met with Chinese President Xi Jinping's top Economic Adviser Liu He. Trump struck an unusually optimistic tone on the fate of the North American Free Trade Agreement, but repeated his threat to quit the pact if the talks fall short. The US neighbours are engaged in so far fruitless talks with Washington to renegotiate NAFTA.

"If Donald Trump puts in place the measures this evening, we have a whole arsenal at our disposal with which to respond", European Financial Affairs Commissioner Pierre Moscovici said before Trump's announcement. The European Union warned before the announcement that it was ready to retaliate with counter-measures against iconic United States products such as Harley Davidson motorcycles, Levi's jeans and bourbon.

Beijing, which until now had kept largely silent on the issue, sharpened its rhetoric significantly. "I'm not sure there are any winners in trade wars", said Johnson, who once ran a plastics manufacturing business in his home state. Orrin Hatch of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, floated the possibility of legislation to limit Trump's ability to impose tariffs or to require congressional approval, though there's no indication any such plan could garner the necessary veto-proof margin for passage.

"Strategically, we still really like global and emerging markets, but when you have asymmetric risks, that makes us a little cautious on non-U.S. assets for now", given that markets have not yet priced in the possibility of more protectionist policies, he said.

But the same official said it truly is a matter of national security - with six US aluminum smelters shutting down the last few years, and just five remaining, and only two operating at full capacity, he said that leaves the U.S.at risk of having to import all its aluminum eventually.

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