Friday, 17 August, 2018

Trump says announcement on steel and aluminum tariffs coming Thursday

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Ray Hunter | 11 March, 2018, 01:59

Colorado's congressional delegation includes some of the prominent Republicans pushing back on President Trump's announcement Thursday afternoon to place a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

The contentious tariffs, worth billions of dollars, will go into effect in 15 days.

"A strong steel and aluminum industry are vital to our national security, absolutely vital", he said.

Railroad tracks run past the blast furnaces of the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, April 21, 2016.

The concession to Canada and Mexico is seen as a bargaining chip as the two countries engage in talks with the USA to reform the Clinton-era trade deal, the North American Free Trade Agreement.

Steel and aluminum make up 5.5 percent of Maryland's imports and, by that measure, the state is ranked fourth in the nation for its use of those products, according to a study from the Brookings Institution this week.

The senior administration official lambasted critics of the president's tariffs saying, "Nobody inside the beltway should express any sort of surprise".

Donald Trump exempted Canada and Mexico Wednesday from punishing new tariffs on steel and aluminum into the U.S.

"We are relieved because the threat was enormous", said Yves-Thomas Dorval, the president of Conseil du patronat du Qu├ębec, a major employers group that promotes business interests in Quebec.

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"So these industries are industries which the president has said we need to be a country, we need to national security, and they are under significant threat".

Representatives from the steel and aluminum industries have already begun convening in Washington ahead of an announcement.

Trump has declared that trade wars are "easy to win" and campaigned on the promise to renew American industries by slapping barriers on trade from other countries. He added that NAFTA was an important part of the US-Canada-Mexico security relationship.

U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was due to meet European Union trade chief Cecilia Malmstrom and separately with Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko on Saturday for long-planned talks that have taken on added urgency amid concerns that Trump's move could provoke a global trade war.

The European Commission had already warned on Wednesday that if the U.S. went ahead with its plan, it would retaliate with increased tariffs on American goods such as Bourbon whiskey, Levis jeans, Florida orange juice and peanut butter.

Republicans in Congress said they were blindsided by the move and had been scrambling to persuade Trump to reverse course.

Last year, China's steel exports to the U.S. constituted about 2.9 per cent of the 35.6 million tonnes of the metal imported annually by America.

Tim Phillips of Americans for Prosperity, a Koch brothers affiliate, also said he was "disappointed" by the tariffs. That would leave the country without a domestic source of steel needed for essential military projects, say officials, as well as essential infrastructure such as dams and the electricity grid.

"We want our workers to be protected and we want, frankly, our companies to be protected".

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