March 1, 2018
Crucial details remain unclear, but Trump’s announcement of tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum is by far his most consequential move on trade to date.
According to a Toronto Star story, U.S. President Donald Trump says he is about to slap major tariffs on steel and aluminum from other countries, a move that could cause significant harm to Canadian industry, raise prices for U.S. consumers and prompt an economy-damaging round of international retaliation.
He said he will impose the tariffs “next week,” and that they will last “for a long period of time.”
“People have no idea how badly our country has been treated by other countries,” he said.
Because the announcement was made hastily, crucial details remain unclear. Most pressingly for Canada: whether Canada will be exempted, as it was from the steel tariff imposed by Republican George W. Bush in 2002.
The announcement is by far the most consequential move Trump has made on trade to date, according to the Toronto Star article, significantly exceeding even the reopening of the North American Free Trade Agreement.
Trump ignored the pleas of numerous Republican officials and picked the most severe of three options presented to him by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
Ross, specifically, had formally suggested a steel tariff of 24 per cent. Trump picked 25 per cent, as reported by the U.S. news outlet Axios, because he thought the rounder number sounded better.
Trump appears to have dismissed the arguments of Defense Secretary James Mattis, who asked Trump to again choose “targeted” sanctions and avoid hurting allies.