undergroundnewsroom.com March 23, 2018

Are The President's Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Good for America?

11 March 2018, 01:38 | Damon Campbell

Gary Cohn the former Goldman Sachs president who has quit as Donald Trump’s top economic adviser Credit AP

Gary Cohn the former Goldman Sachs president who has quit as Donald Trump’s top economic adviser

The impacts could be many and varied.

The proposed duties - which have already roiled world markets for days - are to be formalised at a signing ceremony later Thursday, and Canada and Mexico will initially be exempt according to Trump's top trade advisor Peter Navarro. Retaliatory tariffs placed on USA products could impact 11 states where exports account for more than 10 percent of gross domestic product.

"We want a lot of steel coming into our country, but we want it to be fair, we want our workers to be protected", Trump said Thursday before signing an order on the tariffs.

The tariffs were based on national security grounds, but the majority of steel and aluminium was for civilian use, Wang Hejun, a senior official at the ministry said.

The spokesperson added: "We will work with European Union partners to consider the scope for exemptions outlined today and continue to work with all the sectors involved in this decision to robustly support our industries and demonstrate the importance of their high-quality products for USA industries and security".

The action being taken, the president said, follows a nine-month investigation by the Department of Commerce, documenting a growing crisis in USA steel and aluminium production that threatens the security of the country.

Trump has said the tariffs are needed to reinforce lagging American steel and aluminum industries and protect national security. Business groups have warned that the impact could be felt across the supply chain as consumers face higher prices for automobiles, appliances and other consumer goods. "It's been an assault", Trump said at the White House.

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In a tweet, Trump has said the United States will be flexible and cooperative with those nations who are "real friends".

"At least in the near term, prospects for German industry have never looked rosier", economist Carsten Brzeski of ING Diba bank said after official data showed industrial production held steady in January.

"American companies have not been treated fairly and some American companies frankly have taken advantage of it and gone to other countries and developed in Mexico, massive automobile plants, taking our jobs away and taking our companies down to Mexico to make the cars and then they send them right across the border without tax, without anything", he said. The presidency has no inherent authority to adjust tariffs, but Congress long ago began allowing presidents latitude on trade that affects national security - which is how Trump is justifying the new tariffs.

The Treasury secretary said he has been speaking with his foreign counterparts and "my expectation is there may be some other countries that he considers in the next two weeks". During a cabinet meeting earlier in the day, Mr. Trump singled out Australia as an example of another country that could be excluded, citing the trade surplus that the United States maintains with Australia, which imports more from America than it exports to the country.

Several Republicans and White House Economic Adviser Gary Cohn, however, have raised concerns about instituting such stiff tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, the top Democrat on the House Ways and Means Committee, meanwhile, offered a more mixed take on the president's move to institute new tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum. "The difficulty is so far I haven't persuaded him", Alexander said.

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