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Tariffs could have unintended effects in Trump country

09 March 2018

"He expressly acknowledged the points that we've made about the important relationship with Australia, the very strong friendship and of course the fact that America has a surplus in its trade with Australia", the prime minister told reporters.

Newly enacted US tariffs on aluminum and steel imports have sparked a sharp reaction from across the globe, with several nations warning of an all-out trade war.

He suggested in an earlier meeting with his Cabinet that Australia and "other countries" might be spared, a shift that could soften the worldwide blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners. She noted that under WTO rules, once Trump's tariffs come into force in two weeks, the European Union would have 90 days to enact the measures.

"He dialed it back a little bit, but they're still tariffs, and we're still going in the wrong direction from a policy perspective if you're a markets-focused globalist", said Michael O'Rourke, chief market strategist at JonesTrading in Greenwich, Connecticut. George W. Bush imposed higher duties on steel imports in 2002. Canada and Mexico have already criticized the threats and are not changing their stance in the face of USA ultimatums on contentious issues, such as rules of origin. White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said that other countries who also sign a new North American Free Trade Agreement could also receive a similar exemption.

"We are not afraid of a trade war", said Wen Xianjun, Vice Chairman of China's Nonferrous Metals Industry Association.

Trump's steel tariffs are seen as an affront by most USA trading partners because the bulk of steel industry overcapacity comes from China, yet China itself would barely be touched, at least directly, by the 25% tax since it accounts for just 2% of US steel imports.

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The European Union promised swift retaliation for the metal tariffs, targeting some of the most popular items it imports from the United States.

The Netherlands exported some 550 million euros ($675 million) worth of steel worldwide past year and Rutte says the United States is the biggest market outside Europe.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said Australian golfer Greg Norman wrote a letter to the president lobbying for Australia to be exempt.

Like Canada, it pointed out that any negotiations over these tariffs are separate from the ongoing NAFTA talks.

President Donald Trump imposed the measures to protect the United States metals industry.

President Trump said the unfair trading practices, particularly by China, has created dire circumstances for the industry. "We work together. We can not possibly be a threat to national security in the USA, so we are counting on being excluded", she said.

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Worsening trade ties will test China's policy of " strategic composure" in dealing with Trump's America First ethos.

The awkward exchange took place at the an event in the White House yesterday where President Trump pressed ahead with imposing import tariffs of 25pc on steel and 10pc for aluminum.

South Korea is the sixth biggest United States trading partner and a key military ally in Asia.

Stock markets in Asia rallied as traders said the tariffs could have been worse, as equities were buoyed by the news that Trump would meet North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Mnuchin said he's spoken to "many of my other counterparts already". Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) announced he will "introduce legislation to nullify these tariffs", saying the tariffs "are a marriage of two lethal poisons to economic growth - protectionism and uncertainty".

Ford warned in a statement that Trump's tariffs "could result in an increase in domestic commodity prices - harming the competitiveness of American manufacturers".

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Tariffs could have unintended effects in Trump country