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United States steel tariff might harm Houston petro sector

06 March, 2018, 01:52 | Author: Priscilla Morrison
  • US steel tariffs chart

President Donald Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. would impose new tariffs on imports on steel.

The president is unfazed by criticism that he is launching the US into a trade war saying Friday that sometimes trade wars are a good thing.

The analysis came a day after Trump surprised seemingly everyone with specific, imminent tariffs on the materials.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says "I believe so" when asked whether President Donald Trump will make a formal announcement this week about trade penalties on imported steel and aluminum.

"It's not only China that believes this to be unreasonable, many European countries and Canada have all said they can not accept this". This resulted in aluminum nearing a two-year high at 17 cents per pound, while steel exploded to a six-year high of $840 per ton, prices that elated domestic metals producers and metalworkers who could see a more secure job outlook. That is no showstopper, they contended. In December 2003, the administration withdrew the tariffs, but the damage was significant - one study said a net 200,000 U.S.jobs were lost.

Beijing has accused Trump of undermining global trade regulation by taking action over steel, technology policy and other disputes under USA law instead of through the World Trade Organization.

Canada, the biggest supplier of steel and aluminium to the United States, said it would retaliate if hit by U.S. tariffs. But it's bad for companies that use the metals, and it prompted red flags from industries ranging from tool and dye makers to beer distributors to manufacturers of air conditioners.

"What possible scenario could you envision where we wouldn't supply you with steel and aluminum?"'

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said Canada is prepared to take responsive measures to defend its trade interests.

Those fears were exacerbated early Friday when Trump welcomed a trade war in a blistering series of tweets, saying they are "good and easy to win".

The Mexican and Canadian ministers are likely to press Trump's trade envoy for more details on how their countries could be excluded from the blanket tariffs.

Opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen said about $240 million in steel exports and $70 million in aluminium sales to America were at stake. Many in the agricultural industry fear that retaliatory measures from these countries could hurt US exports of meat and grains.

China also condemned the move, with a Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson saying: "If all countries followed the example of the United States, [it] will undoubtedly result in a serious impact on the worldwide trade order".

Trump has already moved far away from the US's traditional role as global leader, turning his country, in effect, into just another child having tantrums with its siblings.



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