Trump readies tariff plan rollout, exempting Mexico, Canada

Tuesday, 13 Mar, 2018

U.S. President Donald Trump could exempt more countries from trade tariffs, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Friday.

The Trump administration is considering clamping down on Chinese investments in the US and imposing tariffs on a broad range of its imports to punish Beijing for its alleged theft of intellectual property, according to people familiar with the matter.

Mr. Trump said he would delay implementation of the tariff for metals from Canada and Mexico, pending their willingness to "make a deal " to his liking on a revised North American Free Trade Agreement.

Canada is the No. 1 seller of both steel and aluminum to the U.S.

"(This tariff-signing) should be a great day for America", he said. Companies who use steel, regardless of the steel's origin, need to prepare to engage in the debate.

Trump says the excess of imported steel and aluminum is a "travesty" and hurts American workers and industry. A total of 10 blast furnaces have been shuttered or idled in the United States since 2000, a 50-percent reduction that was attributed to foreign competition and excessive imports.

Last week Kitimat Unifor Local 2301 president Sean O'Driscoll said Unifor representatives would be meeting with the provincial energy and trade ministers in Victoria to lobby on behalf of BC Works members and the community.

Even before Trump's authorization of new tariffs last week, the United States was imposing almost 170 antidumping and countervailing tariffs on steel, including 29 duties against China alone, according to the report. This statement, which came during a press conference, was not accompanied by any documentation or guidance. "It's very important for employees and supplier chains".

Trump's top economic adviser Gary Cohn has resigned in apparent protest over the controversial tariffs.

Q: What tariff rates did the President announce? "So they charge us 50, we would charge them 50", Trump said in his remarks before signing the two proclamations. It is unclear whether the tariffs would apply to all imports or target specific countries.

"We suspect many countries will argue against tariffs before the enforcement date, but those that don't receive exemptions will respond with retaliatory measures", Oxford Economics said in a note. The exemption is indefinite. However, the proclamations establish no process for such negotiations, and it is not clear how such negotiations will proceed.

Q: Can other products be excluded from the tariffs in the future?

President and CEO of the Aluminium Association of Canada, Jean Simard, said the problem wasn't the export of Canadian aluminium to the US, rather the export of aluminium from China. After making such a determination, which will typically include an opportunity for other stakeholders to comment, the exclusion is published in the Federal Register and takes effect.

"Today's announcement excluding Canada from the Section 232 tariff recognizes the importance of our trade relationship with the USA and ensures our highly integrated supply chain can continue unimpeded", Ghosh said.

The action being taken, the president said, follows a nine-month investigation by the Department of Commerce, documenting a growing crisis in United States steel and aluminium production that threatens the security of the country.

The WTO is a different matter, however.