Tuesday, 13 November, 2018

Trump planning tariffs on European steel, aluminum

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross leaves his hotel in Beijing U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross leaves his hotel in Beijing
Faye Gross | 04 June, 2018, 01:16

The move is likely to have an immediate impact on global trade in steel and aluminium, particularly between the USA and Canada, the largest supplier of imported steel to the US.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau says he will work with Canadian steel and aluminium companies hit by punishing USA tariffs to make sure jobs and workers north of the border are protected.

Canada has already hit back, announcing retaliatory duties on American goods worth up to Can$16.6bn (USD$12.8 bn).

The purchases are partly aimed at shrinking the $375 billion USA goods trade deficit with China.

Chairing the meeting, host nation Canada's Finance Minister Bill Morneau allowed participants to register grievances with Mnuchin one at a time, according to a Canadian source. Macron pledged the riposte would be "firm" and "proportionate" and in line with World Trade Organization rules.

Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, who pushed the steel and NAFTA issues during her meeting on Tuesday in Washington with US trade czar Robert Lighthizer, has also made it clear that Canada would retaliate if the duties are imposed. And Canada's actions - putting the US on notice of punishing counter-tariffs, but delaying their imposition - seems created to give cooler heads inside the USA a chance to talk some sense to Trump, if that's possible.

Larry Kudlow, director of the National Economic Council, tells reporters Friday that he remains optimistic about the outcome of negotiations with Canada, Europe and Mexico in spite of recent escalations.

Trump is seeking significant changes to NAFTA as part of a broader effort to reduce trade deficits and return jobs to the United States. Even if the USA were to agree to waive the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, Malmstrom said, "I expect them nonetheless to want to impose some sort of cap on European Union exports".

Trump tweeted that Canada had treated US farmers "very poorly for a very long period of time".

After years of trade agreements that bound the countries of the world more closely and erased restrictions on trade, a populist backlash has grown against globalization.

Although trade is not the direct responsibility of the representatives, they quickly turned their attention to possible repercussions.

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"God knows there are plenty of tariffs the European Union has in place on us", he said.

Germany's Volkswagen, Europe's largest automaker, said no side would win a trade war.

President Donald Trump's chief economic adviser is brushing off concerns over escalating trade disputes with a host of US allies as nothing but a "family quarrel".

They come as the two countries, along with Mexico, are trying to hammer out a renegotiated North American Free Trade Agreement and after Trump sent a warning to Trudeau late Thursday that the days of the US being taken advantage of in trade deals "are over".

Donald Trump said the 25% tariff on steel and 10% tariff on aluminium was in the US's national interest, but European Union leaders have described the move as "protectionism" and "illegal".

Mexico announced "equivalent" measures on a wide range of USA farm and industrial products, including pork legs, apples, grapes, cheese, steel and other goods. The tariff rates are published by the U.S. International Trade Commission in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule, which lists U.S. tariffs on everything from dried plantains (1.4 per cent) to parachutes (3 per cent).

"We are determined to protect the multilateral system", EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said of the WTO challenge."We are expecting everybody to play by the rules".

The U.S. decision came despite last-minute talks in Paris this week to try to reach a deal. The U.S. team also wants to secure greater intellectual property protections and an end to Chinese subsidies that have contributed to overproduction of steel and aluminum.

Former British trade minister Francis Maude has condemned the United States' decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports as "stupid" and counterproductive.

Le Maire asked Mnuchin, "How can you get the Chinese to respect worldwide law if you don't?" one meeting participant said.

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