Sun, Mar 04, 2018 - Page 5 News List

Defiant Trump welcomes trade war

‘EASY TO WIN’:Trump in a flurry of tweets said no nations would be exempted from his ‘reciprocal taxes,’ as the ‘Wall Street Journal’ called the move ’self-inflicted folly’


US President Donald Trump on Friday welcomed the prospect of a trade war, remaining defiant in the face of the global uproar sparked by his sudden announcement of steel and aluminum tariffs.

With global stock markets tumbling and allies riled, he greeted the reaction by raising the stakes and vowing even harsher trade policies.

In a series of morning tweets, he said he would seek to impose “reciprocal taxes” on all imports from trading partners that charge duties on US exports.

That would ratchet up the administration’s confrontational “America First” trade policy far beyond the hefty steel and aluminum tariffs he announced on Thursday.

The wide-ranging actions, if imposed, would eviscerate the rules-based global trading system the US helped to build and drastically raise the chances of a trade war.

However, Trump seemed to welcome the prospect in an early morning tweet, saying “trade wars are good, and easy to win.”

Allowing imports into the US market duty-free when similar exports face tariffs is “not fair or smart,” Trump said.

“We will soon be starting RECIPROCAL TAXES so that we will charge the same thing as they charge us. $800 Billion Trade Deficit-have no choice!” he added.

“IF YOU DON’T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON’T HAVE A COUNTRY!” he said in another tweet.

And while some allies, like Canada, had hoped to be spared the tariffs, a senior administration official on Friday said that Trump had ruled out allowing nations to be exempted, which could inflame tensions even further.

An editorial in the conservative Wall Street Journal typified the dismay of industry advocates, calling the tariffs the “biggest policy blunder” of Trump’s young presidency and “self-inflicted folly.”

US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross ran to the president’s defense, holding up cans of Budweiser, Coca-Cola and Campbell’s Chicken Noodle soup during an appearance on CNBC, saying that ordinary consumer goods would see little increase in price.

However, Sherrie Rosenblatt, vice president and spokeswoman for the Can Manufacturers Institute, said that the value of metal in an individual item did not reflect the true burden tariffs would create for can manufacturers and users.

Major players in the US metals industry and their workers, who have long complained of dumping, overcapacity and subsidies by competing producers, would be the obvious beneficiaries.

However, analysts say a far larger share of US industry and economic activity would be exposed to higher prices, weighing on growth and employment.

Recent official figures show about 140,000 Americans work in US steel mills, generating about US$36 billion in economic activity, or about 0.2 percent of GDP, but steel-consuming industries employ 6.5 million Americans and add about US$1 trillion to GDP.

In 2002, then-US president George W. Bush imposed steel tariffs that caused an estimated 200,000 in job losses and cost nearly US$4 billion in lost wages.

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