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Trump, China, and Steel Tariffs: The Day the WTO Died

12 March 2018

President Donald Trump renewed his demand that the European Union halts its trade barriers to U.S. products in order to spare his allies new steel and aluminum tariffs.

Canadian officials and businesses breathed a sigh of relief last week when Trump confirmed that Canada and Mexico would be exempt from the new tariffs - at least for now.

US President Donald Trump has upped the ante in an ongoing row over trade tariffs, saying that if the European Union did not lower its trade barriers on US products, he would consider introducing import tariffs for European cars, adding, "We're gonna tax Mercedes-Benz, we're gonna tax BMW".

What is unfolding before us is also a good reminder that we need to make a complete review of trade policy per se the United States under Trump. Talks would continue next week.

Mr. Trump wants to use trade policy to advance America's national and economic security priorities.

Japanese trade minister Hiroshige Seko said he had expressed Japanese concern to Lighthizer and warned of major market disruption.

"We Europeans must band together resolutely and try to convince our American partners", Spahn told newspapers of the Funke media group to be published on Monday.

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Turnbull's charms seem to have worked, however, with Trump yesterday announcing that Australia would be exempt from the trade tariffs.

"He only explained the schedule and the procedures", he said.

He told a boisterous crowd that if Europe did not lower trade barriers to United States imports, "we're gonna tax Mercedes-Benz, we're gonna tax BMW".

Lighthizer did not make any immediate comment after the meetings.

The visit had been planned for weeks as a follow-up discussion on over capacity, seen by observers as a swipe at China.

Yet those arguments had little resonance with Trump during the fiery battle over tariffs that has played out in the West Wing in recent days.

"These are two separate tracks and in the NAFTA negotiations Canada will not be subject to any type of pressure", she said.

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China, while it may keep its powder dry, has mentioned possible action over United States agriculture (e.g. soya beans) but it may take advantage of the retreat from global leadership by Trump to fill the vacuum.

This tariff will have drastic implications on the world's economy, with Mexico and Canada the only countries granted an exemption, mainly because of the president's desire to restructure the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

It has already started monitoring incoming metal flows to see whether a surge occurs.

Conversely, the tariffs from 10 to 25 per cent are likely to depress worldwide prices by metal exporters to the United States looking for other markets to dump their product in.

Along with a huge range of steel products, the European Union 's hit list of flagship American products lined up for counter measures includes peanut butter, bourbon whiskey and denim jeans.

The decision to slap hefty tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, which the White House made formal on Thursday, has roiled worldwide markets, angered longtime trading partners and prompted threats from the president's own party to stop the tariffs through legislation.

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Trump, China, and Steel Tariffs: The Day the WTO Died