US trade tar­iffs prompt threats

The Weekend Post - - World -

THE Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion has de­liv­ered a gut punch to Amer­ica’s clos­est al­lies, im­pos­ing tar­iffs on steel and alu­minium from Europe, Mex­ico and Canada in a move that drew im­me­di­ate vows of re­tal­i­a­tion.

Share prices slumped amid fears of a trade war, with the Dow Jones in­dus­trial av­er­age fall­ing nearly 1 per cent.

The du­ties threaten to drive up prices for US con­sumers and com­pa­nies and are likely to heighten un­cer­tainty for businesses around the world. Com­merce Sec­re­tary Wil­bur Ross said the tar­iffs – 25 per cent on im­ported steel and 10 per cent on alu­minium – would take ef­fect im­me­di­ately.

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump had orig­i­nally im­posed the tar­iffs in March, say­ing a reliance on im­ported met­als threat­ened na­tional security.

But he ex­empted Canada, Mex­ico and the Euro­pean Union to buy time for ne­go­ti­a­tions, a re­prieve that ex­pired at mid­night on Thurs­day.

Other coun­tries, in­clud­ing Ja­pan, are al­ready pay­ing the tar­iffs. Aus­tralia and Ar­gentina are ex­cluded from the tar­iff in­creases. The US will place quo­tas or vol­ume lim­its on steel and alu­minium from them in­stead. The ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ac­tions drew fire from Europe, Canada and Mex­ico.

“This is pro­tec­tion­ism, pure and sim­ple,” said Jean-Claude Juncker, pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion.

French Pres­i­dent Em­manuel Macron called the US de­ci­sion to levy tar­iffs on the Euro­pean Union “il­le­gal” and a “mis­take”.

The EU threat­ened to coun­ter­punch by tar­get­ing US prod­ucts, in­clud­ing Ken­tucky bour­bon, blue jeans and mo­tor­cy­cles.

Mex­ico com­plained the tar­iffs would “dis­tort in­ter­na­tional trade” and said it would pe­nalise US im­ports, in­clud­ing pork, ap­ples, grapes, cheeses and flat steel.

Canada an­nounced plans to slap tar­iffs on $C16.6 bil­lion ($16.93 bil­lion) worth of US prod­ucts.

“Canada is a se­cure sup­plier of alu­minium and steel to the US de­fence in­dus­try, putting alu­minium in Amer­i­can planes and steel in Amer­i­can tanks,” Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau said.

“That Canada could be con­sid­ered a na­tional security threat to the United States is in­con­ceiv­able.” Mr Trump had cam­paigned to crack down on trad­ing part­ners he said ex­ploited poorly ne­go­ti­ated agree­ments to run up big trade sur­pluses with the US.

The tar­iffs could com­pli­cate the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sep­a­rate trade fight with Bei­jing.


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