Trump announces stiff trade tariffs, unswayed by warnings
WASHINGTON: Unswayed by Republican warnings of a trade war, President Donald Trump ordered steep new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the US on Thursday, vowing to fight back against an "assault on our country" by foreign competitors. The president said he would exempt Canada and Mexico while negotiating for changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement.
The new tariffs will take effect in 15 days, with Canada and Mexico indefinitely exempted "to see if we can make the deal," Trump said. NAFTA talks are expected to resume early next month.
"The American aluminum and steel industry has been ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices. It's really an assault on our country. It's been an assault," Trump said at the White House. He was joined by steel and aluminum workers holding white hard hats.
American steel and aluminum workers have long been betrayed, but "that betrayal is now over," Trump said. The former real estate developer said politicians had for years lamented the decline in the industries, but nobody was willing to take action.
As he has indicated previously, Trump said he would levy tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminum. But he said during a Cabinet meeting earlier in the day that the penalties would "have a right to go up or down depending on the country and I'll have a right to drop out countries or add countries. I just want fairness."
Business leaders, meanwhile, have continued to sound the alarm about the potential economic fallout from tariffs, with the president and CEO of the US Chamber of Commerce raising the specter of a global trade war. That scenario, Tom Donohue said, would endanger the economic momentum from the GOP tax cuts and Trump's rollback of regulations.
"We urge the administration to take this risk seriously," Donohue said.
The president suggested in the meeting with his Cabinet that Australia and "other countries" might also be spared, a shift that could soften the international blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners.
"We're going to be very fair, we're going to be very flexible but we're going to protect the American worker as I said I would do in my campaign," Trump said.
People briefed on the plans ahead of the announcement said all countries affected by the tariffs would be invited to negotiate with the administration to be exempted from the tariffs if they can address the threat their exports pose to US manufacturers. The exemptions for Canada and Mexico could be ended if talks to renegotiate NAFTA stall.
The process of announcing the penalties has been the subject of an intense debate and chaotic exchanges within the White House, pitting hard-liners against free trade advocates such as outgoing economic adviser Gary Cohn.
The fight over tariffs comes amid intense turmoil in the West Wing, which has seen waves of departures and negative news stories that have left Trump increasingly isolated in the Oval Office, according to two senior officials speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal discussions.
Congressional Republicans and business groups are bracing for the impact of the tariffs and the departure of Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive who has opposed them.
Rocky Rocky-Earth-7 hours ago
He is targeting china. Let him do. He is free to protect his country's interest. He is a American Patriot.
Ilias4124 Ilias-USA-7 hours ago
Trump for US is like Modi for India. Kudos to both of these leaders for taking such daring decision that helps their countries!
Jay Ram3390 Jay Ram-7 hours ago
The right leader for the US right now!
Picl10171040 Picl1017-6 hours ago
A tough leadership should come to India to abolish reservations, corruption.
Som Nath Sharma4911 Som Nath Sharma-7 hours ago
I like Mr. Trumps guts to stand up and do what he thinks is best for his country. As for the risks, there are always there and can be tackled as these arise.