US Signs Off On Tariffs, Angering Trade Partners


Gulf countries will not be able to fully escape the impact of any global trade wars that could break out following US President Donald Trump move to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, said analysts.

Gerd Goetz, the head European Aluminium, said the U.S. measures "could have severe economic consequences for SME's [small and medium-sized enterprises] in countries such as Germany, Italy, France, Spain, Sweden and in central and east European countries".

PNWER vice-president Graham Sucha, NDP MLA for Calgary-Shaw, said the group has been working across party lines on free-trade negotiations.

"He's not quite as strong on those tariffs as we want".

Experts say oil country tubular goods (OCTG) will be affected most by the new duties, as these products are specially designed for oil and gas drilling in extreme environments and are heavily dependent on the USA market.

Prior to Trump's announcement, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau expressed confidence of a tariff exemption for Canada, due, he said, to persistent pressure from the Canadian government on the Trump administration, including a personal phone call to the president that week.

PNWER's membership comprises Alaska, Idaho, Oregon, Montana, Washington, British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Yukon and the Northwest Territories. "If this action takes effect, it would inevitably deal a serious blow to South Korea's steel exports to the U.S".

"The loss of exports to the US, combined with an expected massive import surge in the European Union, could cost tens of thousands of jobs in the European Union steel industry and related sectors", said Axel Eggert, head of steel association EUROFER.

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Lawmakers have largely remained in the dark about the White House's plans, but many senators said it's a long shot at best to stop Trump.

German business groups offered a mixed response to Trump's tariff assault, with the German Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DIHK) calling for a proportionate response from the EU.

"Our initial assessment of the steel and aluminum tariffs the President announced today indicates negative and unintended consequences that run counter to the administration's intention".

The way Washington proposed implementing tariffs was "wrong", Britain's Secretary of State for International Trade Liam Fox added Thursday, while Japan's Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko said Trump's decision was "extremely regrettable".

Some strategists for the Republicans believe that the tariffs imposed by Trump could be timed in part to sway voters in this steel country of Pennsylvania where there will be a special election next Tuesday for a seat in the House of Representatives. "At the same time, we have some friends and some enemies where we have been tremendously taken advantage of over the years".

After the signing ceremony, EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom said the EU should also be exempt from the ruling because it is a close ally of the US.

China in fact runs a massive trade surplus with the United States. However, stock markets in Asia rallied as traders said the tariffs could have been worse.

"Manufacturers are not prepared to absorb a sharp increase in the cost to build cars and trucks in America", warned Cody Lusk, chief of the American International Automobile Dealers Association, which represents USA dealerships of foreign vehicle brands.