US President Donald Trump’s administration expanded its trademark steel and aluminum tariffs to cover certain imported nails, staples, electrical wires and some downstream parts that go into automobiles and tractors, among other products.
The decision comes almost two years after the administration implemented tariffs on imports of foreign raw steel and aluminum that Trump said threatened the viability of the domestic industries and therefore threatened US national security.
Some imports of derivative aluminum products would be subject to an additional 10 percent duty, while some derivative steel products would be slapped with a 25 percent tariff, he said.
Argentina, Australia, Canada and Mexico were exempted from the additional aluminum tariffs. As for the steel tariffs, exemptions were allowed for Brazil, Argentina, Canada, Australia, Mexico and South Korea.
While imports of aluminum and steel have declined since the Trump administration imposed levies, some derivative products “have significantly increased since the imposition of the tariffs and quotas,” according to Trump’s proclamation.
Trump said in the document that he had agreed with US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross in his findings that aluminum articles and steel articles were being imported into the US in such quantities and under and under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security of the United States.
Since the beginning of his administration, Trump has used tariffs — and the threat of them — to affect policy.
Earlier this week, at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, he warned European leaders of new penalties if they were not willing to compromise on a trade deal before the US elections in November.
Trump departed from the more conciliatory tone he had struck earlier in the week, once again highlighting the option of tariffs on imports of European cars and parts and claiming that he targeted China first in his trade war because an unfair EU is harder to deal with.
“They have trade barriers where you can’t trade, they have tariffs all over the place, they make it impossible,” Trump said on Wednesday. “They are frankly more difficult to do business with than China.”
Last month, Trump reinstated tariffs on aluminum and steel from Argentina and Brazil, nations that he criticized for cheapening their currencies to the detriment of US farmers, and he again called on the US Federal Reserve to loosen monetary policy.
Linking his trade agenda with his Fed criticism in an early morning tweet, he said the two South American countries “have been presiding over a massive devaluation of their currencies, which is not good for our farmers.”
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