Trump signs order on steel, aluminium tariffs

Frederick Owens
March 11, 2018

"What I have read today is that they are probably considering some exemptions to NAFTA countries. but also they have mentioned the United Kingdom and maybe some other countries", Katainen told reporters.

German business groups offered a mixed response to Trump's tariff assault, with the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) calling for a proportionate response from the EU.

Largely as a result of earlier-imposed trade sanctions, the USA imports only a small fraction of its steel directly from China, which is responsible for 50 percent of the world's steel production. Indeed, this could be the official kickoff of the trade war we all anticipated. A White House official said Trump was referencing an ongoing investigation of China in which the USA trade representative is studying whether Chinese intellectual property rules are "unreasonable or discriminatory" to American business.

The president's comments came after a frenzied and uncertain morning in which administration officials tried to resolve debates and complications that threatened to hold up an order he has been trumpeting for a week. "These tariffs will raise prices on so many products that Americans buy every day".

Other administration officials echoed the argument.

He also hinted that security concerns were key to the introduction of tariffs.

There was some bipartisan concurrence on the idea of focusing any tariff plan on China rather than more broadly.

Those two countries were excluded due to "shared" commitments on national security and the reduction of excess production of steel worldwide, a provision aimed mainly at state-backed Chinese companies that Trump blames for having flooded the world with cheap steel.

He added: "It worries me that I don't think the Trump administration has quantified what it can supply from its own market and what it can't".

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Historic building exterior at U.S. Steel Corp's Granite City Works in Granite City, Illinois, on July 5, 2017. Century Aluminum has said it will make a $100 million investment to restart an idle plant that makes military grade aluminum.

"Many of the countries that treat us the worst on trade are our allies", Trump added.

Reaction in Maryland, where manufacturers rely heavily on steel imports according to a recent study, was largely negative.

In a statement, the Government said it had been "clear that tariffs are not the right way to address the global problem of overcapacity".

More than 100 House Republicans wrote Trump on Wednesday, asking him to reconsider "the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences" to the US economy and workers.

That includes making it possible to make sure steel and aluminum producers can "earn a decent rate of return".

Following the announcement, United States Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross told CNBC that "there's no question that the action the president took today is a further motivation to both Canada and Mexico to make a fair agreement with the United States". "We will have to protect our industry with rebalancing measures, safeguards".

Traders are anxious that the tariffs could bring an end to the economic growth that the United States and much of the rest of the world has enjoyed over the last few years and create a tit for tat trade war that could severely damage most major economies.

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