Canada, Mexico could be excluded from steel and aluminum tariffs, Mnuchin says

The Associated Press

U.S. President Donald Trump has vowed to impose a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and a 10 per cent tariff on aluminum imports, with details expected to be unveiled Thursday.

Canadian Finance Minister Bill Morneau and Foreign Affairs Minister Chrysta Freeland both said last week that Canada was requesting an exemption to the tariffs, citing the interdependent nature of the North American aluminum market, but they were clear the government is willing to retaliate if need be.

"If we don't make the deal on NAFTA, and if we terminate NAFTA. we'll start all over again".

He suggested in an earlier meeting with his Cabinet that Australia and "other countries" might be spared, a shift that could soften the global blow amid threats of retaliation by trading partners.

Trump critic and vocal free trader, Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), said he would announce a legislation that would nullify the tariffs.

In fact, the entire American steel industry has been losing money since 2009, until prices rose previous year in anticipation of further tariffs.

Says Trump, "It's really an assault on our country".

A tariff is essentially a tax, and the goal of the proposed tariff is to offer an incentive to US manufacturers to use domestically produced steel and aluminum by increasing the cost of foreign imports. In 2017, the US trade deficit for goods and services was $566 billion, the largest since 2008.

One lever that China has is USA agricultural exports and it has said in the past that it could target soybeans.

Allies that convince the Trump administration that their steel and aluminum exports don't threaten American industry will be spared, the President said. "I just want fairness".

"However, history has shown that tariffs imposed on imported steel could raise prices on both domestic and imported materials, thus causing a financial burden on our customers", the company said.

Newly enacted USA tariffs on aluminum and steel imports have sparked a sharp reaction from around the globe, with several nations warning of an all-out trade war.

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More than 100 Republican lawmakers have signed a letter to Trump expressing "deep concern" about the policy, which they warned could "undermine" economic gains from the president's own tax reforms. And Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin called the tariffs "a very risky action" that could put agricultural and manufacturing jobs at risk.

After signing the tariffs, Trump now heads to a steel mining area of Pennsylvania, where he'll hold a rally Saturday night to campaign for Republican congressional candidate Rick Saccone, who is facing off against Democratic former prosecutor and Marine Corps Captain Conor Lamb in a special election on March 13. Bush had argued that imports were hurting American manufacturers.

Finally, Britain Trade Secretary Liam Fox said Trump's approach to tariffs is doubly absurd because they would apply to British suppliers to the USA military.

The response is a familiar one - in 1995, the United States banned Mexican trucks from driving more than a short distance over the border, and in retaliation, Mexico placed tariffs on food items from ketchup to frozen corn in 2009.

"Looking forward to 3:30 P.M. meeting today at the White House", Trump said on Twitter Thursday morning. "In this instance, and with these particular tariffs, we do not believe that will be the result".

Two dozen conservative groups, including the Club for Growth, FreedomWorks and the National Taxpayers Union, urged Trump to reconsider, writing in a letter that the tariffs would be "a tax on the middle class with everything from cars to baseball bats to even beer".

Trade tensions between Washington and Beijing have risen since Trump took office past year. We have a trade surplus with Australia.

Several major trading partners have said they will respond to the tariffs with direct action.

"So our view is yes we can deal multilaterally with the overproduction of steel, but this is the wrong way to go about it".

Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, meanwhile, called the announcement a "step forward" and said Canadian officials had exerted tremendous efforts to get the exemption. The U.S.is one of the largest global exporters of corn and soybeans, and historically, these have been easy targets of retaliation.

"In the near term, there will be little impact to us from the tariff itself", the company said.

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