Auto industry closes ranks to oppose Trump’s tariff threats

Mar 22, 2018
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The Turnbull government has ruled out participating in a World Trade Organisation action against US President Donald Trump’s steel and aluminium tariffs, saying the exemption granted to Australia removes any grounds for complaint.

Johnson declines to respond when I quote Liam Fox, the worldwide trade secretary, who labelled Trump’s tariff policies “absurd”.

Trump is not one to merely look the other way under such conditions, and has proposed tariffs that at this point exclude only Canada and Mexico.

The EU says the best way forward would be for the U.S.to co-operate in trying to reduce a glut of steel and aluminum on global markets, which experts says is largely due to China’s overproduction in recent years.

“There’s no victor in any trade war”, Didier Leroy, executive vice president at Toyota, said in an interview in Geneva.

To all of that, add in that the tariffs Trump wants to impose resulted from an investigation by the Department of Commerce that showed that imports of both steel and aluminum are sufficiently high that they pose a national security threat.

Volvo Cars CEO Hakan Samuelsson said that tariffs could affect the carmaker’s plans to export from a plant it’s building in SC, where half of the 4,000 projected jobs are tied to shipping S60 sedans and XC90 sport utility vehicles to overseas markets.

“We are advocates of free trade and hope that’s how it plays out”, said Ford’s Armstrong.

National security has likewise been put forward as a justification for tariff barriers to trade. The US, which makes higher-quality steel than countries like China, could potentially be supplying much of those countries’ needs.

“Not fair to our farmers and manufacturers”, he wrote.

A meeting in Brussels between Malmstrom and her USA counterpart Robert Lighthizer on Saturday ended without a breakthrough, as the European Union didn’t receive reassurances that it will be exempted from metal tariffs. The three Nafta partners agreed to meet again in late March or early April to tackle remaining issues, particularly the USA demand for enhanced sourcing requirements for steel and aluminium and other automobile components. Perhaps Trump should take a look at what happened when his predecessors George W. Bush and Barack Obama imposed trade restrictions: they did the United States more harm than good.

President Donald Trump’s administration is considering a trade package including indefinite tariffs, investment restrictions and possible visa restrictions on Chinese travelers, a source told CNBC Tuesday. “We look forward to 2018”, U.S. Steel CEO David Burritt told industry analysts February 1, according to a transcript at the website Seeking Alpha. “It will only bring disaster to China and the United States and the world”.

“I told the president that imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum does not help with regard to NAFTA”, Trudeau said Monday. If the U.S.’ new trade action ignites a tariff war among them, the amount of global trade will decrease, dealing a blow to Korean exporters overall.

And that doesn’t factor in the costs borne from retaliation taken by foreign partners against unrelated US industries.

The U.S.is the world’s biggest importer of steel, purchasing 35 million tonnes of raw material in 2017.

“They’re having trouble coming up with sufficient evidence to document what they want to do”, said one veteran industry executive.

Needless to say, Canadian officials didn’t greet the tariff news warmly.

“These tariffs are a really bad idea”, said James Smith, chief economist at Parsec Financial Management Inc.in Asheville, North Carolina.

In August, the president directed Lighthizer to investigate whether China’s intellectual-property policies discriminated against US companies. More boomed because of cheap imports.

Canada is the largest market for the United States, with 283 billion USA dollars worth of goods exported to Canada in 2017.

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