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U.S. commerce secretary says world leaders call Trump about tariffs

05 March 2018

US President Donald Trump's decision to levy import tariffs on steel and aluminium typifies the administration's scattergun approach to trade policy: many victims, a lot of friendly fire and hitting all the wrong targets.

An advocate of "Made in America", Trump has been a harsh critic of his predecessors' trade agreements, which he says have taken millions of jobs away from the U.S.

Theresa May has sought to head off a trade war between the European Union and the United States after President Donald Trump threatened to to introduce tariffs on steel and aluminium imports.

On Saturday, Trump threatened European automakers with a tax on imports if the European Union retaliates.

He said that if one country was exempt, all other countries would line up to ask for similar treatment, and that metals could end up being shipped to the United States through exempted countries, the paper said.

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For its part, the European Union continues to reject May's proposals for the trade arrangements, which it likens to "cherry picking".

They say more American workers will be hurt by the import tax by virtue of retaliation as well as their dependence on steel and aluminum, regardless of where it originates.

Fontana-based California Steel Industries, the largest steel mill in the western United States, depends nearly exclusively on imported semifinished steel slabs, usually from Mexico, Brazil and Japan.

Canadian prime minister Justin Trudeau told reporters in Ontario he was "confident we're going to continue to be able to defend Canadian industry".

Canada is hoping it will be exempted from the new tarrifs, which also include 10 per cent on aluminum.

"The truth is economic security is national security", he said.

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The chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation sent a letter on Friday to Trump, urging him not to impose tariffs on steel and risk triggering a trade war. It brought strong criticism from some Republicans and financial markets concerned about tariffs and their effect on the economy. The White House, he said, was focused on trading conditions that had been unfairly skewed for decades.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said if other countries followed in the steps of the U.S.it "will definitely inflict serious impacts to the worldwide trade order".

"At this point in time, there's no country exclusions", said Peter Navarro.

Energy industry officials raised concerns about the tariffs on steel since the sector relies on imports.

Following the announcement, Wisconsin's Republican Gov. Scott Walker asked Trump to reconsider his position on the tariffs - and said he had expressed his views on the matter to Ross previous year. On Sunday South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham told CBS's Face the Nation Trump was making "making a huge mistake" and should "go after China, not the rest of the world".

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After Trump's announcement, Chinese officials urged the USA to support global trade.

U.S. commerce secretary says world leaders call Trump about tariffs