Potential for trade war getting embrace from Trump

March 6, 2018 GMT

President Donald Trump is embracing the potential for a trade war after announcing his intent to place tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, as he rebuffs allies who have pushed to be exempted from the stiff duties.

The protectionist policy will be made official in the next two weeks, White House officials said Sunday, as the administration defended the decision from critics in Washington and overseas.

Trump appeared unbowed Sunday, as he tweeted that American “Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change!”

Trump’s pronouncement Thursday that he would impose tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, on imported steel and aluminum, roiled markets and rankled allies. While his rhetoric has been focused on China, the duties will also cover significant imports from Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Japan and the European Union.

And White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told CNN on Sunday that “at this point in there there’s no country exclusions.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The across-the-board action breaks with the recommendation of the Pentagon, which pushed for more targeted tariffs on metals imports from countries like China and warned that a wide-ranging move would jeopardize national security partnerships. But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency oversaw reviews of the industries that recommended the tariffs, said Sunday ABC’s “This Week” that Trump is “talking about a fairly broad brush.”

Republican South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham said the sweeping action would let China “off the hook,” adding the tariffs would drive a wedge between the U.S. and its allies.