President Trump signs proclamation on steel, aluminum tariffs

Ivan Schwartz
March 12, 2018

In a stage-managed White House press conference, surrounded by steel workers, US President Donald Trump has signed off on new steel and aluminium trade tariffs that many fear could spark a trade war.

The metals tariff order that Trump signed at the White House authorises 25 per cent duty on imported steel and a 10-per cent duty on imported aluminum, in order to safeguard national security and to stop the "assault on our country".

Despite mounting dissensions amid trading partners around the world, Trump formally signed proclamations to impose the tariffs, vowing to protect the US steel and aluminum industry in the name of national security.

While the White House has repeatedly said the tariffs should come as no surprise, the news has riled many GOP lawmakers, USA trade partners, and even some inside Trump's White House.

European Union officials said that while they shared U.S. concerns about overcapacity in the steel sector, tariffs were not the answer, and stressed Europe's historic ties to the United States.

Business leaders in the steel and aluminum sectors were reportedly flying to Washington Wednesday night in anticipation of a tariff signing created to protect them against foreign competition.

"As (the U.S. steel) tariffs are imposed while the two-way South Korea and U.S. FTA renegotiations are underway, we will consult with the minimize their impact (on South Korean companies)", Paik told reporters ahead of the meeting.

'The dumping of cheap Chinese steel into the United Kingdom took our world class British steel industry to the precipice because of the British government's inaction.

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Business leaders, meanwhile, continued to sound the alarm about the potential economic fallout from tariffs, with the president and CEO of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce raising the specter of a global trade war.

The process of announcing the penalties has been the subject of an intense debate and chaotic exchanges inside the White House, pitting hard-liners against free trade advocates such as the outgoing economic adviser Gary Cohn.

Trump's proposed tariffs closely match the recommendation in a report submitted to the president by the Department of Commerce on February 16.

China's exports surged and its trade surplus unexpectedly widened in February, illustrating the lopsided nature of global commerce that Donald Trump is preparing to introduce protectionist measures against. Trump said in his tweet. "These tariffs are very likely to accelerate a tit-for-tat approach on trade, putting USA agricultural exports in the cross-hairs", said Brian Kuehl, executive director of Farmers for Free Trade.

"We'll see how far this really goes", he said. More than 100 Republicans penned a letter to the president urging him to reconsider, for the sake of American businesses and consumers. Decades, in fact, by unfair foreign trade practices, leading to the shuttered plants and mills, the laying-off of millions of workers, and the decimation of entire communities.

Yves-Thomas Dorval, President of the CPQ, wants the government to do everything in its power to ensure tariffs don't hit Quebec's steel and aluminum industries. It's a move that could impact businesses in Berks County. You don't have steel.

"All countries will be welcome to discuss with the United States alternative ways to address the threatened impairment of the national security caused by their imports", the official said. A great country, a country long term partner will be doing something with them.

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