Dazi, Trump signs the law for steel and aluminum: "I protect American workers"
From the American president a new stage of the protectionist offensive. In the viewfinder this time, steel and aluminum with duties on imports of 25% and 10% respectively. Exempted for now Canada and Mexico
"I protect American workers, I protect national security": this is how Donald Trump confirmed the new stage of his protectionist offensive . The sectors to be defended this time are steel and aluminum, the president signed the decree that imposes on customs imports of 25% for the first, 10% for the second. He chooses to use the law article 232 which refers precisely to national security. The justification: those two metals are used in many armaments production (military aircraft, warships, tanks and missiles), America would be close to losing self-sufficiency, Trump does not want to be in a situation where the production of material war would depend on foreign imports.
"I disagree with this action - said the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan in a statement - and I fear his unwanted consequences.We will continue to urge the administration to focus this policy on those countries and practices that violate trade laws ".
Since last night, Trump's adviser on foreign trade, Peter Navarro, had anticipated in an interview with Fox News the two temporary exceptions of Canada and Mexico, initially exempted from these duties, although they are both big US steel exporters. The motivation: those countries are "friends and allies", but above all they are negotiating with them for the revision of the NAFTA treaty that regulates the North American single market.
So Trump wants to use the threat of duties as an instrument of pressure at that negotiating table. At least for now, Canadian and Mexican producers of steel and aluminum are exempt from the customs tax. To the others it allows 15 days to find alternative solutions, examining their behavior not only on the commercial level but also on the military one. The future goal is "reciprocal taxation", warns the president, who in the meantime invites foreign companies to produce in the USA.
As for Europe, here too there is an offer of flexibility on the part of the White House, but more vague and problematic. National security again comes into play. Those countries with which there are alliances (in the case of NATO) are invited to offer alternative options to Washington, without prejudice to the need to protect national production, employment and self-sufficiency for defense purposes. It is not clear whether the White House wants to invite every single European government to open a bilateral negotiating table. It would be impossible given that trade negotiations are the responsibility of Brussels for the Member States of the European Union.
Meanwhile, the European Commissioner for Trade, Cecilia Malmstrom, speaks on Twitter: "The EU is a close ally of the United States and we continue to be of the opinion that the EU should be excluded from these measures", writes in a post; "I will look for more clarity on this issue in the coming days, and I will discuss it with the US trade representative Robert Lighthizer, whom I will meet on Saturday in Brussels".
On protectionism in the last 24 hours there had been a deep rift in the president's party. Among the signals, the internal uprising of 100 Republican parliamentarians, and the resignation of the head of the White House economic advisors, the former president of Goldman Sachs Gary Cohn. Trump has dismissed Cohn's departure by boiling him as a "globalist", eepiteto in which some wanted to see a bit of anti-Semitism. The China paradoxically, it is not among the countries most affected by the latest measures because much of its metal exports go to other destinations, Asiatic and European. It was the first target, however, when in January Trump passed tariffs on solar panels made in China. Yesterday Trump said that China wants a bilateral deficit reduction plan that eliminates 100 billion a year.