Saturday, 15 December, 2018

USA tariffs: Steel and aluminium levies slapped on key allies

Canada's Justin Trudeau says NAFTA talks broke down after Pence made ultimatum Canada 'deplores' tariff decision: Trudeau
Kelvin Reese | 04 June, 2018, 03:33

The U.S. has a shortage of domestic supply of steel and aluminum, while prices have risen nearly 40 per cent since Trump announced tariffs in March, when he temporarily exempted Canada.

"And we are working very hard to remind our American partners that we have such an integrated procurement supply chain that it's very difficult to fathom that there would be a security risk imposed by Canada".

In terms of the NAFTA talks, the tariffs could hinder the negotiations among the North American neighbors.

The president took to Twitter Friday to accuse Canada of treating US "farmers very poorly for a long period of time". He told NPR's Audie Cornish: "We are close allies, we the Europeans, to the United States and we can not understand that decision". His administration has asked China specifically to reduce its trade surplus with the U.S.by $200 billion, more than half the 2017 total, which was a record-high $375 billion.

"This decision is not only unlawful but it is a mistake in many respects", Macron said, adding that the USA was responding to global imbalances with economic and commercial nationalism.

He said the European Union and China would expand cooperation in trade, investment, finance, innovation and sustainable development, as it brings "win-win results" for both sides.

"This is stupid. It's counterproductive", former British minister of state for trade Francis Maude told the BBC. It's counterproductive, that any government that embarks on a protectionist path inflicts the most damage on itself.

The tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, which affect the EU, Canada and Mexico, came into effect on Friday.

The EU said it has opened legal challenges against China and the United States at the World Trade Organization on Friday as punishing trade tariffs announced by Washington raised the prospects of a global trade war.

Janzen said the steel and aluminum tariffs are a unique result of Trump policies whereas softwood lumber has been an irritant for decades. In the case of aluminum and steel, Trump is invoking a seldom-used clause of a 1962 law that gives him the authority to curb imports if they undermine national security. But he exempted Canada, Mexico and the European Union to buy time for negotiations - a reprieve that expired at midnight Thursday. Countries through the years have used other means to keep foreign goods out and protect homegrown companies, a practice known as mercantilism.

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"Protectionism, pure and simple".

Previously Brussels pledged to retaliate the United States protectionist steps with its own 25 percent tariffs on USA products, including motorcycles, jeans cigarettes, cranberry juice and peanut butter.

Macron's office said in a statement Friday that the two presidents spoke by phone after Trump's administration announced the decision Thursday to impose 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum.

He said G7 officials expressed concern to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin during the session on trade that the US tariffs posed a risk to global economic growth.

In a March 2 Twitter post, he declared trade wars "good, and easy to win", though later he denied the USA and China are in one. Beijing has also launched a complaint over Trump's threat to impose tariffs on $50 billion worth of Chinese goods.

The steel and aluminum tariffs could also complicate the administration's efforts to renegotiate NAFTA, a pact that Trump has condemned as a job-killing "disaster".

But the U.S.is pressing ahead nonetheless, a long-threatened tactic sure to cast a pall over the G7 summit Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is hosting next week in Quebec. The EU, Canada and Mexico also threatened stiff retaliatory tariffs as they pushed back against Trump's moves.

Likewise, the Trump trade team sought to use the tariff threat to pressure Europe into reducing barriers to US products.

"Those people that work in metal-producing and steel mills will benefit, but those that work in steel-using industries when the prices go up, are going to be hurt".

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