Trump signs off on steel, aluminum tariffs

Global Business

Trump signs off on steel, aluminum tariffs

The U.S. said new imports on steel and aluminum could go into effect in as soon as 15 days.

On Thursday, U.S. President Donald Trump signed off on the tariffs he announced last week. Trump said no one should be surprised, as it was a campaign promise. And, he’s now delivering.

CGTN’s Roee Ruttenberg reports.

The new duties amount to 25 percent on foreign steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum. 

The workers said they hoped it’ll resurrect made-in-America metals. Their metals. But critics warn the move could spark a worldwide trade war.

More than a hundred Republican lawmakers – many of them Trump supporters – sent the president a letter on Thursday urging him to reconsider. Republican U.S. Senator Ron Johnson was among the signatories.

“A generalized tariff that would harm allies, harm American consumers, by the way, harm American workers that use steel in production, hurting their competitive nature in global markets as well, I’m opposed to that,” Johnson said.

During the signing ceremony, Trump said the U.S.’s neighbors to the north and south—Canada and Mexico—will be exempt, pending the ongoing renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, or NAFTA.

Both countries had heavily lobbied the administration in recent weeks. Trump also suggested that there might be some flexibility for Washington’s other “friends.”

That’s unlikely to include Beijing. China is the world’s biggest steelmaker, and has been seen largely as the target of these tariffs, even though Chinese steel accounts for but a fraction of U.S. imports.

On Thursday, Beijing warned it would make a “justified and necessary response.”

“As the world’s largest two economies, China’s and America’s interests are deeply interwoven,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. “We hope the two sides can sit down calmly and find a win-win solution through equal and constructive dialogue.” 

But the lead up to this—and the potential fallout—have been anything but calm. In fact, Trump’s top economic adviser, Gary Cohn, resigned this week in protest. But the president is unfazed. He said he supports free trade. But insists it must be fair. And this, he believes, is a significant step in that direction.

Carlo Dade discusses the latest developments in US tariffs and the CPTPP signing

CGTN’s Rachelle Akuffo spoke to Carlo Dade, director for the Trade and Investment Centre at the Canada West Foundation about U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, and the signing of CPTPP.