U.S. tariffs on steel, aluminum to enter force in 15 days

Date: Friday, March 9, 2018
Source: American Shipper

Global tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum will take effect March 23, President Donald Trump announced late Thursday afternoon.
   However, steel and aluminum imports from Mexico and Canada will be exempted from the trade remedies, pending a successful result of the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
   “The actions we’re taking today are not a matter of choice, they’re a matter of necessity for our national security,” Trump said.
   Trump ordered the tariffs pursuant to separate Commerce Department-led investigations into the national security impacts of steel and aluminum imports.
   The reviews were enabled by Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, a provision that allows the President to take remedial action if imports are found to endanger U.S. national security.
   To be sure, Trump said the U.S. would be open to modifying or eliminating tariffs on steel and aluminum from certain nations that can “guarantee” that the U.S. won’t be harmed by unfair trade practices, including dumping.
   The executive branch also intends to impose a separate “mirror tax” on countries that charge exorbitant tariffs on U.S. goods, Trump said, citing China and India as examples, stopping short of committing to any specific, immediate action on the matter.
   “We’re going to be doing a lot of that,” Trump said of the reciprocal tariff concept.
   Initial reactions of Congressional Republicans tilted positive, with House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady, R-Texas, and Ways and Means Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert, R-Wash., saying in a statement that Trump heeded their call to steer clear of full-scale global tariffs, yet called for the administration to narrow the tariffs even further.
   “Clearly President Trump has listened to Congress and job-creators all over America by improving the original proposal to create a path to allow fairly traded steel and aluminum to be excluded country-by-country and business-by-business,” Brady said. “Exempting Canada and Mexico is a good first step, and I urge the White House to go further to narrow these tariffs so they hit the intended target – and not U.S. workers, businesses and families.”
   However, the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA) - a marine cargo operating partnership of the ports of Tacoma and Seattle - was not so pleased with Trump signing off on the tariffs. The NWSA said the tariffs “could lead to broad negative economic consequences for Washington state,” and how “many trade experts also are raising concerns that the new U.S. tariffs on imports could lead to retaliatory tariffs on U.S. exports.”
   Just yesterday, the European Commission had outlined a plan to counter U.S. trade restrictions on steel and aluminum imports. Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström said the tariffs would hurt the European Union, putting thousands of European jobs in jeopardy.

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