Trump says tariff announcement coming Thursday afternoon

11 March, 2018, 03:02 | Author: Jason Torres
  • Courtesy MGN Gage Skidmore  CC BY-SA 2.0

President Donald Trump stuck to his guns and formally announced heavy new steel and aluminum tariffs Thursday afternoon, despite fears from Republicans that it could start a trade war.

The president has said the tariffs are needed to reinforce lagging American steel and aluminum industries and protect national security.

"We have to protect our steel and aluminum industries while at the same time, showing great flexibility with people who are really friends of ours", the USA president said during a White House press conference.

The EU exported about 5.5 million tons of steel to the US a year ago.

Railroad tracks run past the blast furnaces of the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, April 21, 2016. Whether they permanently dodge these misguided, punitive measures depends on how they behave in the ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement negotiations.

The proclamations he signed on Thursday impose a 25 per cent penalty on steel imports and 10 per cent penalty on aluminium imports.

"Today, the USA has only one steel mill that can produce the advanced alloys used in armored-vehicle plating; one aluminum smelter that makes the high-grade aluminum needed for defense aerospace applications; and one steel mill that makes the materials needed for infrastructure like electrical transformers".

The senior administration official lambasted critics of the president's tariffs saying, "Nobody inside the beltway should express any sort of surprise".

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The US president lauded a special relationship with Australia while admonishing another key ally, Germany, during remarks in Washington on Thursday.

Trump said the tariff hikes ordered Thursday were needed to protect USA national security by ensuring the survival of the country's metals producers.

Business leaders in the steel and aluminum sectors were reportedly flying to Washington Wednesday night in anticipation of a tariff signing created to protect them against foreign competition.

American steel and aluminum workers have always been betrayed, but "that betrayal is now over", Trump said. He discussed the tariffs by telephone on Friday with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull of Australia and President Mauricio Macri of Argentina, the White House said. It's gonna give us. the opportunity to negotiate a great deal for this country.

"Trade wars are bad and easy to lose", European Union president Donald Tusk warned, directly rebuffing Trump's assertion last week that they were "good and easy to win".

More important, the Trump administration has repeatedly dropped the ball on efforts that might have succeeded in prompting China to curb production, something that would have benefited not just the United States but also allies that are now threatening to retaliate by imposing tariffs on American goods and services. As recently as Sunday, the top White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said on CNN that "at this point in time, there will be no country exclusions".

There are a handful of Democrats who are on board with Trump's move, though. Sen. "Steel is steel. If you don't have steel, you don't have a country. Congress can not be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster", Flake said in a statement.

It was a decision that served the interests of Americans as well as businesses and workers in this country and Mexico.

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