Donald Trump's Empty Words on Trade

EconomicsNewsWorld News Global trade war looms as President Trump signs off hefty steel and alluminium tariffs Ben Gelblum

Trump signed two proclamations that levied a 25 per cent tariff on steel and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminium imported from all countries except Canada and Mexico.

"This is an industry that is in serious condition if you turn to the steel industry since 200,000 we've lost over 50,00 jobs, since 200 we've lost 40,000 in aluminum", a senior administration official said Friday.

And now he's committed Canada to an 11-nation trade partnership with Pacific Rim countries without USA involvement, a deal that will permit, among other things, more foreign auto imports into Canada - which has already infuriated US automakers and Canada's auto workers.

"If you put tariffs against what are your allies, one wonders who the enemies are", European Central Bank President Mario Draghi said at a press conference in Frankfurt.

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.

The head of the United Nations trade and development agency Unctad said the tariffs would take a toll on poorer countries and could trigger takeovers in their mining industries.

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They wrote that adding taxes in the form of tariffs would undermine the economic momentum of the recently passed GOP tax plan.

The new tariffs will take effect in 15 days, with America's neighbors indefinitely spared "to see if we can make the deal", Mr. Trump said. He also said that the USA is open to modifying tariffs on individual countries, depending on how they treat the US.

"Our economy and our national security are strengthened by fostering free trade with our allies and promoting the rule of law".

Malcolm Turnbull is pleased Donald Trump singled out Australia as a potential exemption from his steel tariffs, but says he will be "relentless" in making sure the deal is done.

"I am pleased that the president has listened to those who share my concerns and included an exemption for some American allies, but it should go further", Ryan said in a statement.

China, which ranks 11 among the largest sources of United States steel imports, was also the only country named in a White House statement on the tariffs, amid a worldwide glut of aluminium that has shuttered USA smelters.

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"We want to build our ships, we want to build our planes, we want to build our military equipment with steel, with aluminium from our country".

European Commissioner Malmstrom, who coordinates policy for the 28-nation EU, the world's biggest trading bloc, said she stood ready to go to the WTO, the worldwide trade arbiter, to impose the bloc's own safeguards within 90 days.

Canada and Mexico have objected to tying the tariff issue to NAFTA, as it essentially stacks the deck in America's favor.

Mr. Trump ordered higher tariffs on Thursday, citing what he said was the need to protect USA national security by ensuring the survival of the country's metals producers.

"And it is certainly not the right way to include Europe in that because we are friends, we are allies, we work together, we can not possibly be a threat to national security in the United States, so we are counting on being excluded".

The looming departure of White House economic adviser Gary Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who has opposed the promised tariffs, set off anxiety among business leaders and investors anxious about a potential trade war.

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