Concern mounts as Trump sticks with tariff level

The administration would have done well to allow President Trump's signature legislative achievement to do its work in boosting the competitiveness of all USA firms, rather than follow the rash path of imposing tariffs that could dampen the economic benefits of the first major tax reform plan in 31 years.

President Donald Trump signed proclamations Thursday slapping USA tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum from nearly every country, with the penalties snapping into effect in 15 days. So far, the Trump administration has loosely tied the exemptions to negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement and said a failure to renegotiate it could end the special treatment.

The White House adviser also pushed back against reports casting the process as arbitrary, sloppy and rife for successful legal challenges.

It's still unclear what final form the plan will take.

The US president also said: "We have to protect and build our steel and aluminium industries while at the same time showing great flexibility and cooperation towards those that are real friends and treat us fairly on both trade and the military".

Dangling exemptions for Canada and Mexico "undermines" the administration's argument that the tariffs are needed to protect United States national security, according to Inu Manak, a visiting scholar at the Cato Institute.

What a crude, offensive bargaining chip Trump tossed on the table. Despite this fact, the US president frequently says that Canada is taking advantage of the USA and that the Americans are the ones with the deficit.

Steve Beam, a descendent of Jim Beam who runs a Kentucky distillery, warned as early as last November that tariffs of this kind would cause a loss of competitive advantage.

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However, as NPR's Anthony Kuhn notes, "Despite China's objections, the tariffs are not likely to do it much damage, since less than 2 percent of China's steel exports go to the U.S". Bush ended up dropping the tariffs in 2003.

Along with the US, the two nations make up the North American Free Trade Agreement, which is largely aimed at stemming such punitive tariffs.

"In recent days, we have worked energetically with our American counterparts to secure an exemption for Canada from these tariffs", Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters on Thursday, acknowledging the efforts of premiers, business leaders, labour leaders and parliamentarians from multiple parties.

"We can not possibly be a security threat to the United States so we are counting on being excluded".

"I think you're going to see, as you understand the details of what actually is going to happen, that we're not trying to blow up the world", Ross said on CNBC. And even as Trump approved the tariffs, 11 partners in the Asia-Pacific were in Santiago, Chile, to sign a multilateral trade deal embraced by president Barack Obama but rejected by Trump. He said they need to contact U.S. trade czar Robert Lighthizer, and negotiate.

Canadians can breathe easier today - but just a little - after Donald Trump spared this country from his harsh, new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the United States. Both countries had warned of retaliatory measures if they were not exempt.

Steel imports will be hit with a 25% tariff and aluminum imports with a 10% tariff. But the vast majority of Chinese steel shipments go to other countries.

Freeland was also told that, "on aluminum, like in the United States, the Canadian industry has also raised concerns about misclassification of exports from China and we would be happy to work with U.S. Customs on this type of issue as well".

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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