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Trade groups say U.S. tariffs on aluminum, steel will hurt

11 March 2018

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The tariffs rollout has been rife with confusion and dissension in the White House.

Even as European Union leaders drew up a list of US products they said would be subject to retaliatory tariffs and threatened to take their case to the World Trade Organization, they also recalled the long history of trans-Atlantic friendship.

Historically proponents of free trade, several Republicans dubbed the measures "stupid" and "misguided" - if the United States increases the cost of both materials, they hold, American producers of vehicles and other products will suffer setbacks on the worldwide playing field, and consumers will pay more.

Yet those arguments had little resonance with Trump during the fiery battle over tariffs that has played out in the West Wing in recent days. Trump has declared war on facts, on any independent expert who challenges his puerile prejudices on a vast range of topics. Mr Trump took to Twitter on Saturday morning to say he'd spoken with the prime minister. The account's most popular video is of Melania Trump decorating the White House last Christmas, with 2.9 million views to date.

News that the president would accept a meeting never taken by a sitting U.S. president came from an unlikely source Thursday evening: a last-minute press statement by a South Korean official standing in the dark on the White House driveway.

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The county voted for then-Republican candidate Trump by more than 24 points in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Trump has also left open the possibility that other countries will be excused.

And with midterm elections looming, the extraordinary backlash from the president's Republican Party sets up a showdown between the chief executive and his own majority lawmakers.

One way or another, a middle ground must be found to avert a global trade war.

Republican Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin called the tariffs "a very risky action" that could put agricultural and manufacturing jobs in his state and across the country at risk.

If the entire cost is passed to consumers, which may not be possible, it could add about $300 to the price of the average vehicle, said Kristen Dziczek, director of Center for Automotive Research's Industry, Labor & Economics Group. "There may be people who lose less".

The policy comes as little surprise, since Trump routinely condemned what he characterized as bad trade policies with the likes of China and Japan and vowed to revive American manufacturing by addressing America's trade posture. The Trump administration previously indicated it would exempt Canada and Mexico from the tariffs as NAFTA negotiations are underway, and European Union Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmströmsaid Friday that the EU is "counting on being excluded" from the new USA tariff regime.

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"Pretty much all of you will be immediately expanding if we give you that level playing field, if we give you that help", said Trump in announcing 25 percent tariffs on steel imports and a 10 percent surcharge on foreign aluminum.

"This is not a trade negotiation", he said.

By giving countries a potential sanctuary from tariffs, Trump might have temporarily lowered the temperature.

Those quotas allowed the Farrell plant to keep operating and Miller hopes the Trump administration will follow suit.

The proclamation also notes how closely linked the United States, Canada and Mexico are, both economically and in terms of proximity.

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Trade groups say U.S. tariffs on aluminum, steel will hurt