Government promises 'robust' defence of steel industry amid fears of trade war

EU official warns of ‘arsenal' of measures to respond to Trump’s tariffs

The dispute has fueled concerns that soybeans, the US' 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.

Axel Eggert, chief of Europe's main steel federation (EUROFER) said on Friday that Trump's tariffs are absurd, and, with the expected massive steel import surge to the European Union (EU), they could cost tens of thousands of jobs across the continent. "We don't see that the mills are going to lower their prices overnight just because of him excluding the tariffs, because President Trump has already said he wants to renegotiate the NAFTA agreement on his terms".

Canada is the leading supplier of imported steel and aluminum to the USA, accounting for 16 percent of imported steel and 41 percent of imported aluminum, as CNBC has reported.

With national security as the primary issue, it would be hard to apply the tax to South Korea and Australia, meaning that they could ultimately land on Russian Federation more than nearly any other country, said Levy, now at adjunct professor at Northwestern University.

A separate proclamation was signed by Trump for aluminium, utilizing virtually the same language except for differences in grades covered by the orders.

At the White House, officials were working to include language in the tariffs that would give Trump the flexibility to approve exemptions for certain countries.

Other countries seeking exemptions from the tariffs will have to make their case through U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, but the president will make the ultimate decision, a senior administration official told reporters Thursday.

There are no winners in this sort of war, no matter how many times Trump tweets, "trade wars are good, and easy to win".

Trump's authority to establish the tariffs stems from a Commerce Department investigation that found that imports of the metals pose a risk to national security.

Those steel "articles" are defined under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule as 7206.10 through 7216.50; 7216.99 through 7301.10; 7302.10, 7302.40 through 7302.90; and 7304.10 through 7306.90.

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Johnson says the prices of steel soared about 80 percent or more.

Donald Trump announced new stiff tariffs on U.S. steel and aluminum imports on Thursday (March 8), but left the door open for plenty of unilateral negotiations, in his trademark "make me a deal" style.

According to a list drawn up by the European Commission, obtained by Bloomberg news, targeted US goods include motorcycles, jeans, and bourbon whiskey.

But not everyone believes tariffs will help the US economy.

Authority for the tariffs comes from a seldom-used law from the 1960s that's created to protect domestic industries deemed vital to national defense. In recommending tariffs or quotas, the Commerce Department noted that employment in the domestic steel industry has shrunk by 35 percent in the last two decades, while the aluminum industry shed almost 60 percent of its jobs between 2013 and 2016.

The Republican president surprised lawmakers in his own party in announcing the tariffs, which triggered the resignation of a top economic aide and drew the ire of global partners who vowed retaliation.

The China Iron and Steel Association said the move would draw a global backlash.

"The Prime Minister and Speaker Ryan emphasized the complementary and integrated nature of steel and aluminum industries on both sides of the border", Trudeau's office said in a statement.

The president said a 25% tax will apply to steel imports, and 10% will be added to aluminium brought into the US.

The EU produces 177 million tonnes of steel and exports around 5 million tonnes of steel to the U.S. every year, a small share, overall. Trump signed an executive order on January 23 which pulled the U.S. out of the Trans-Pacific Partnership, fulfilling his anti-Free Trade "America First" electoral pledge.

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