Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake has threatened to introduce legislation to nullify the President’s tariffs if they are anything like what Donald Trump is predicting.
Trump announced on March 1, that the U.S. was set to impose a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium imports. But he showed more leniency than initially thought. Not exempt from the tariffs, though, is America’s long-time ally, South Korea.
Trump said that while the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is being re-negotiated, Canada and Mexico will be exempt.
While this may keep trading partners from unleashing immediate retaliation, it could all backfire by antagonizing American allies. The image of the USA as a “tariff-free” country has taken a beating.
The White House said Canada and Mexico will initially be excluded from the tariffs, which will take effect March 23 – and will contain a clause to recognize relationships with other countries and offer some flexibility, while not imposing a national security or economic threat to the United States.
Next week, Trudeau will tour regions of Canada that are heavily reliant on the steel and aluminum industries in a show of solidarity for those who would be hurt most by stiff USA tariffs.
USA trade representative Robert Lighthizer said last week the pace of the talks is too slow and the US wants them wrapped up in the next four to six weeks.
Britain is now a member of the European Union and would be bound by United States measures against the bloc and any retaliation it launches. “The Japanese industry is not part of the import problem but a solution”.
House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Thursday he disagreed with the decision, but he did not go so far as to suggest action to undo the tariffs. And there will be a long line of companies and countries arguing their imports should be given special treatment.
The Japan Aluminium Association also said the US decision to impose tariffs is “not in accordance with worldwide trade rules” and is “extremely regrettable”.
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.
China was quick to respond to Trump’s announcement.
“A nation that does not protect prosperity at home can not protect its interests overseas”, the president said before signing the order.
$15 billion of the two metals combined were exported to the USA past year.
“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 during a meeting with members of his cabinet Thursday.
Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland told reporters in Toronto that NAFTA is “a completely separate issue”.
In a tweet, he said the “U.S.is acting swiftly on Intellectual Property theft”. Japan will continue to speak to the USA about being excluded, trade minister Hiroshige Seko said separately. He enacted the tariffs using a rarely used legal provision that allows the president to impose tariffs unilaterally if imports are determined to pose a national security risk. Some 15 percent of steel on the USA market comes from the European Union, and the tariffs would be a heavy blow for the 28-member bloc.