Published: Mon, March 12, 2018
Global | By Marsha Munoz

Turkey, others hit out at Trump trade tariffs

Turkey, others hit out at Trump trade tariffs

The White House says Mexico, Canada and other countries may be spared from President Donald Trump's planned steel and aluminum tariffs under national security "carve-outs", a move that could soften the blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners and dire economic warnings from lawmakers and business groups.

German and European politicians are continuing to fight back against the tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum set by Trump on Thursday and due to go into force in 15 days. However, he exempted Canada and Mexico and also offered the possibility of excluding other allies, backtracking from an earlier "no-exceptions" stance.

Ross Denton, a partner at law firm Baker McKenzie, said the European Union may try to convince the administration to selectively drop tariffs on its most popular steel products.

Signals of countermeasures or exemption requests followed his move.

A U.S. Commerce Department report released in February said the quantities and circumstances of steel and aluminum imports "threaten to impair the national security", citing excessive imports and global production overcapacity driven partly by Chinese government subsidies.

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AK Steel is down 8.2 percent.

"That's like a whole plant's worth of annual production that is at risk of becoming uncompetitive", if Europe retaliates, he said Friday, adding that automakers could lose US sales from higher prices as well as exports.

The WTO this week urged members to avoid triggering an escalation of global trade barriers, and instead to reflect on the situation carefully.

More broadly, Trump threw the door open to further exclusions for countries and niche products, raising questions about whether the tariffs will have the intended effect of shoring up the domestic steel and aluminum industry to protect USA national security. But he sought to soften the impact on the United States' closest allies with a more flexible plan than originally envisioned. On top of steel and aluminium tariffs, retailers are troubled by the direction of the ongoing NAFTA negotiations and the threat of additional tariffs on consumer goods from China.

"We are living in historic times of unraveling", he said.

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"Thank you for confirming new tariffs won't have to be imposed on Australian steel & aluminium - good for jobs in Australia and in United States!"

He slammed the European Union this week for imposing higher tariffs on auto imports than the United States.

European Commission Vice President Jyrki Katainen warned Washington on Friday not to expect any concessions to win an exemption.

"No immediate clarity on the exact U.S. procedure for exemption however", Malmstrom tweeted after a trilateral meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Minister for Economy, Trade and Industry Hiroshige Seko in Brussels.

U.S. president Donald Trump has imposed controversial tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium in retaliation to what he has called "unfair trade". And that tariffs would return not just to industrial metals, but countless other products and services now traded freely under NAFTA. The probes were authorized under the seldom-used Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which gives the president broad powers to impose trade restrictions on domestic security grounds.

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The dispute has fueled concerns that soybeans, the United States' most valuable export to the world's second largest economy, might be caught up in the trade actions after Beijing launched a probe into imports of USA sorghum, a grain used in animal feed and liquor.

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