Trump plans to slap tariffs on European Union steel and aluminium

Alicia Cross
May 31, 2018

Trade tensions between the European Union and the United States have been running high since March when US President Donald Trump introduced a 25-percent tariff on imported steel and a 10-percent tariff on imported aluminum.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the president acted on national security grounds, seeing a rising tide of imports as a threat to the domestic metals industry. The US is also engaged in negotiations with the US and Canada with the goal of updating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

The Trump administration announced that the U.S will impose tariffs on steel, aluminum imports from Europe, Canada and Mexico, as a previously designated exemption expires tonight at midnight.

With negotiations going nowhere, Trump made a decision to go forward with the tariffs.

The Prime Minister's Office said they "all agreed to continue to defend the Canadian steel and aluminum industry from unwarranted tariffs and to stand up for the best interests of all Canadian workers and businesses".

Thursday's action also is expected to complicate USA efforts to confront China over a range of trade practices that the administration regards as unfair.

When China targeted key US imports in retaliation against USA tariffs on $50 billion (37.5 billion pounds) of Chinese goods in April, Trump ordered USA officials to identify a further $100 billion of Chinese products the United States could hit.

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On Wednesday, the Trudeau government said it would take additional steps to prevent foreign steel and aluminum from being dumped into the North American market - news that appeared created to try to head off the tariff decision.

'But they can also increase costs more broadly for USA manufacturers who cannot source all their needs locally and have to import the materials.

But Macron said those "who waged bilateral trade wars. saw an increase in prices and an increase in unemployment". NAFTA negotiations are deadlocked over tough protectionist demands from the United States.

Outside of just the beer industry, multiple studies estimated that the steel and aluminum tariffs would result in a net loss of USA jobs and hurt the domestic economy. But German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier insisted the Europeans were ready to negotiate special trade arrangements, notably for liquefied natural gas and industrial goods, including cars.

Trudeau and French President Emmanuel Macron made their cases separately Wednesday to dissuade Trump, who is using a national-security clause in US trade law to justify the move. Discussions could then be expanded to include other countries to agree on changes by the end of the year.

Ross and Lighthizer seemed like the odd men out at this week's gathering at the OECD, an worldwide economic agency that includes the U.S.as a prominent member.

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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