May 20, 2018

France demands total European Union exemption from USA tariffs

05 May 2018, 01:33 | Rufus Hill

Trump tariff decision on SA steel imports expected

As steel tariffs squeeze U.S. businesses uncertainty threatens economic growth

When Trump first announced a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum, he temporarily exempted dozens of countries, including Mexico, Canada and members of the EU.

"These agreements underscore the Trump administration's successful strategy to reach fair outcomes with allies to protect our national security and address global challenges to the steel and aluminium industries", the White House said.

European officials have said the USA tariffs violate global trading rules, and they have threatened to retaliate with levies on iconic American brands such as Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Kentucky bourbon.

European officials argue that the USA national security reasons cited for the metals tariffs are thinly disguised illegal protectionism under WTO rules.

U.S. and Chinese officials will hold highly anticipated trade talks in China on Thursday and Friday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin told Fox Business Network, saying he was "cautiously optimistic" about the meeting.

Calling the renewed exemption as "positive", the British International Trade Department said in a brief statement that Britain "will continue to work closely with our European Union partners and the US government to achieve a permanent exemption, ensuring our important steel and aluminum industries are safeguarded".

"We must stand firm and united versus the United States and convey one and the same message - that there must be a total, permanent exemption short of which there will be no talks", he said.

Tuesday's extension of the tariff reprieve "just lengthens the uncertainty", says Mark Vaughn, the company president.

"I'm always hoping but not always hopeful", US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said Tuesday.

"South Africa is also concerned that the measures are implemented in a way that contravenes some of the key WTO (World Trade Organisation) principles".

Raising the stakes further still, Mr Trump said the United States would then put an import tax on cars made in the EU.

He added, "Same with other countries and NAFTA.but it will all get done".

The European Union, Germany and France all called for EU nations to be permanently excluded from the punishing tariffs.

"If those tariffs were to hit, our prices would go up and we would no longer be competitive", says Trans-Matic President Patrick J. Thompson.

American producers are urging their government to give Canada a permanent tariff exemption on aluminum. The US on Monday confirmed that South Korea was granted a permanent exemption.

A different U.S. President might have sought to create a united transatlantic effort to exert more pressure on Beijing.

The department raised concerns about the impact this decision will have on the competitiveness of SA steel and aluminium products in the US. In addition, it can counter-attack with tariffs on USA products worth 3.4 billion of dollars that are more than those green notes: They attack products from some of Trump's electoral strongholds.

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