Fearing Trade War, EU Warns of Protectionism 'Dead End'


After pressure from allies, the United States has opened the way for more exemptions from tariffs of 25 per cent on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminum that US President Donald Trump set last week.

These agreements cover agriculture, application of sanitary and phytosanitary measures and a host of other details.Other agreements have been made between specific countries, like those the USA has between Israel (1985), Canada and Mexico (NAFTA, 1994), Jordan (2001), Australia (2004), Chile (2004), Singapore (2004), Bahrain (2006), Morocco (2006), Oman (2006), Peru (2007), the Dominican Republic (2007), Panama (2011), Colombia (2011) and South Korea (2011), as listed by Wikipedia.

In short, compared with decades past, the US metals industry can now do more with less.

"I think the overall idea (with the tariff) is to have a better position in the U.S.", CSI President and CEO Marcelo Botelho Rodrigues told a gathering of The Press-Enterprise editorial board Friday, March 9.

She's wrong. The U.S. president has linked them and, in doing so, placed Canada in a awful bind.

Since then, our two economies have become increasingly more integrated - underpinned by well-established and lucrative supply chains. With the possibility of an exemption in mind, South Korean trade authorities will once again stress that Korean companies' investment in the USA can contribute to the American economy and that Korean steel exports do not affect the U.S.' security and economy negatively. "And just recently we've seen how it is used to threaten and intimidate us". That lasted for about three months before the Nixon White House unceremoniously scrapped the surcharge because of unrelenting global opprobrium and pressure. They recommended tariffs, import quotas or both. And yet they send their product to us - no taxes, very little taxes.

Last year's steel exports fell 30 percent from 2016 to 63 million tons, but that still was one-quarter of the global total and more than twice Japan's 30 million tons.

The sudden decision on tariffs was clearly timed politically-as the White House and Republicans make a final push to try to avoid an embarrassing defeat in Tuesday's special election in a deep-red Pennsylvania congressional district that Trump won by almost 20 points in 2016.

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It has also lined up 2.8 billion euros of USA products, from bourbon to motorcycles, on which to impose tariffs so as to "rebalance" trade flows. "Steel is back, and aluminum is back".

Ross also has primary responsibility for overseeing a process under which companies can petition to exclude specific steel and aluminum products from the tariffs. By going after them, Trump is only making life more hard for corporate America. It's politically safer to let Trump walk out first. But there are more than six million jobs indirectly tied to a host of steel-related businesses, from steel girders for buildings to steel wiring for concrete reinforcement.

Does the Trump doctrine risk a trade war?

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström over the weekend to establish whether the bloc would be hit by the measures.

However, there could be a downside to tariffs if trade deals are not done right.

Trump met Europe's threat of retaliation with a threat of his own: To slap tariffs on their autos. An end to NAFTA would not mean an end to Canada-U. Trump has said repeatedly that he wants to protect American manufacturing squeezed by foreign competition, and US steel certainly fits that profile.

"The recycling part is interesting in that it makes the point of declining need to worry about imports", said Michael J. Hicks, director of the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University.