Cutting across party lines, top American lawmakers and industry leaders have opposed the move of the Trump administration to levy 25 per cent import duty on steel and 15 per cent on aluminum from key allies, including the European Union, Canada and Mexico. Lawmakers from the ruling Republican Party described it as a bad move that would have damaging consequences. The US Chambers of Commerce said the decision threatened as many as 2.6 million jobs in the US. “Right strategy. Wrong target. The President and his administration have repeatedly and correctly stated that China’s non-reciprocal, mercantilist policies pose the biggest economic threat to America, our workers, and the US-led global trading system,” Senator Dan Sullivan said.
Another Republican senator, Orrin Hatch, President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico were a tax hike on Americans and would have damaging consequences for consumers, manufacturers and workers. “We should build on our success in overhauling the nation’s tax code with complementary trade policies that, rather than favouring one narrow industry, make all sectors of the US economy more competitive. In light of the mounting evidence that these tariffs will harm Americans, I will continue to push the administration to change course,” he said.
The US Chambers of Commerce chief executive Tom Donohue in a memorandum to his board of directors said this would threaten some 2.6 million jobs in the country. “A growing list of tariffs proposed or imposed by our government, as well as the continued uncertainty over the future of NAFTA, threatens to undermine the economic progress we have made,” Donohue said. The US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the administration was implementing steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union following months of discussions to address the United States’ national security concerns. Yesterday, President Donald Trump announced that he was taking action to protect America’s national security from the effects of global oversupply of steel and aluminum. The tariffs would be implemented on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union from June 1.
The implementation of steel and aluminum tariffs follows an announcement by Trump on March 8. In the initial proclamations in March, Trump welcomed any country with which the United States shared a security relationship to discuss alternative means to address threatened impairment to the national security caused by their steel and aluminum exports to the United States. Trump made it clear that the administration was willing to work with those countries to find separate arrangements that would meet the national security requirements of the United States. The US reached an arrangement with South Korea on steel, which was announced on April 30. It also reached arrangements on steel with Australia, Argentina and Brazil, and with Australia and Argentina on aluminum. However, the US was unable to reach satisfactory arrangements with Canada, Mexico or the European Union after repeatedly delaying tariffs to allow more time for discussions.