US plan for steel, aluminum tariffs prompt global backlash

World Today

US plan for steel, aluminum tariffs prompt global backlash

Global backlash and jittery markets a day after the U.S. announces its plan to slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. The U.S. president is not backing down, and went as far as saying that ‘trade wars are good.’

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

U.S. President Donald Trump has often accused foreign importers of dumping cheap metals in the U.S. He says they’ve basically decimated American industry, and Washington must fight back.

But Trump’s announcement of new tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum has been largely condemned around the world as protectionist and dangerous.

China urged the U.S. to show restraint.

“Steel and aluminum industries in all countries are facing difficulties,” Hua Chunying of China’s Foreign Ministry said. “Right now, the very foundation of the global economic recovery is not stable. All countries should work together to face the problem and cooperate to examine ways to solve the issue, and not unilaterally adopt restrictive trade measures.”

China’s not even among the top 10 importers of steel into the U.S. The top position goes to America’s neighbor to the north, Canada.

Canada also buys half of all U.S. steel. And still, according to Ottawa, Washington enjoys a $2 billion steel trade surplus.

“Canada buys more U.S. steel than any country in the world. And any suggestion that Canadian steel would pose a threat to national security is completely and obviously misplaced,” Francois-Philippe Champagne, the Canadian Trade Minister said.

Canada and Mexico, the two NAFTA partners of the U.S., are hoping for exemptions from the tariffs, which also threatened to derail ongoing renegotiations of a massive trilateral trade deal that covers a lot more than metals.

Fears of an escalating trade war rattled Europe, and also Asia.

Officials from Japan, a U.S. military ally, rejected U.S. suggestions that its steel exports presented a threat to American national security. This, as Japanese steel and automakers called Trump’s tariff plans regrettable.

“I’m worried that steel products shut out by the U.S. may head to Asia instead, and lower steel prices here,” Kosei Shindo, the president of Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corp said.

Some of these players are now warning: they may soon start implementing their own safeguards, like Europe did in 2002, after then-U.S. President George W. Bush imposed steep steel tariffs that drove excess metal their way. They blocked it, and filed suit. Bush eventually removed the tariffs, after the World Trade Organization ruled against the U.S.

Dan Scandling on Trump’s push for U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum imports

To get more insight on potential U.S. trade tariffs, CGTN’s Mike Walter spoke with Dan Scandling, senior director at APCO Worldwide, a global comunications consultancy. Mike asked Dan about Trump’s claim that trade wars are “good” and “easy to win.”