Steel industry is braced for USA import tariffs

Stormy G20 ends with gestures for Trump on climate, trade

It wasn't just European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker who took advantage of today's G20 summit to explain the advantages of free trade agreements to U.S. President Donald Trump - Japanese Prime Minister Shinz┼Ź Abe did the same.

The EU is the world's second largest steel producer after China.

One day later, Axios reported that Trump is leaning toward proposing tariffs of about 20 percent on steel and potentially other imports such as aluminum, paper, semiconductors or appliances.

When Trump launched the Section 232 steel probe in April, he said it had "nothing to do with China".

"There is no doubt that this entire line of trade remedy actions regarding national security matters is going to be an issue", said Jacob Kirkegaard, a senior fellow with the Peterson Institute for International Economics.

The Trump administration has blamed China for what it says is a "global overcapacity" of steel, essentially arguing that the Chinese government is subsidizing the steel industry and allowing its producers to create and export so much steel that it drives down prices and makes it hard for US producers to compete. Taking out his mobile phone, Macron said that when he bought it, he created a trade deficit with the USA, but that when America built it, it created a trade deficit with China.

"There are things that cause us great concern that the United States is starting a trade war against Europe".




"That hurts us, but it also hurts the Americans", he added.

The final G-20 statement pledged renewed efforts to combat excess capacity in the steel industry, while referring to the use of "trade defense instruments". Such a move would mark his administration's biggest protectionist move yet. "Why should we continue these deals with countries that do not help us?"

Supporters of using the Section 232 provision argue that reliance on steel imports leaves the USA defense sector vulnerable to foreign countries.

USA steel prices are firm so far this week, holding onto their value despite the passing of the "deadline" for the Commerce Department's Section 232 investigation results last Friday. Many Republicans-including many in his administration, according to an Axios report-oppose new tariffs.

Several of those exporters-Canada, Turkey, and Germany-are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and as such the Trump administration may have to show that their strategic partners in the military alliance are somehow threatening US national security interests. For example, U.S. Steel went up 8% in June.

World Trade Organization members are already reeling from the unsafe precedent being set by a growing preoccupation with national security measures at the Geneva-based trade body.

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