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U.S. partners blast Trump trade tariffs

11 March 2018

Global trade is not like a ledger register, where imports indicate the costs and exports indicate the benefit, therefore, trade surpluses and deficits do not necessarily mean that one country is "winning", while the other is "losing".

Malcolm Turnbull is pleased Donald Trump singled out Australia as a potential exemption from his steel tariffs, but says he will be "relentless" in making sure the deal is done. Trump said the tariff's would "defend America's national security".

Senator Jeff Flake said he would introduce a law to nullify the tariffs, while Republican chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Orrin Hatch, also criticised the tariffs, but said he would work with the White House to "mitigate the damage".

President Trump hopes these tariffs will help the US economy grow faster both in terms of output and employment. "The EU is a close ally of the United States and we continue to be of the view that the EU should be excluded from these measures", Malmstroem wrote on Twitter. That's not what is happening with Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.

Both Mexico and Canada, meanwhile, rejected Trump's linkage of the levies to ongoing NAFTA talks.

He pointed out the United States has been undermining the dispute settlement process for a number of years, so if a complaint was lodged against Trump's tariffs, it could hit some institutional hurdles inside the WTO.

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President Trump has imposed new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, a move, he insists, that is necessary to revive domestic industry and bring back manufacturing jobs.

Donald Trump has allowed a 15-day negotiation period for countries to argue for an exemption.

Seko said he will discuss responses to the tariffs at a planned meeting Saturday with EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom and U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer in Brussels. "I will seek more clarity on this issue in the days to come".

Canada is expressing cautious optimism after Trump announced the country is exempt from the new steel and aluminum tariffs.

"When the president publicly states that he's willing to exempt Mexico and Canada if they give him concessions in NAFTA negotiations, he's undermining the weak legal argument they have to begin with", said Matt Gold, a former USA trade official under President Barack Obama who works now as a legal trade consultant.

Several major trading partners have said they might respond to the tariffs with direct action.

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Britain is now a member of the European Union and would be bound by U.S. measures against the bloc and any retaliation it launches.

Tonight, Speaker Paul Ryan said he feared there could be "unintended consequences" after the introduction of the tariffs. House Ways and Means Chairman, Kevin Brady (R-TX) and Trade Subcommittee Chairman Dave Reichert (R-WA) organized the letter to President Trump saying the administration should focus its trade action on China and other unfair trading partners. That has put him at odds with many in his Republican Party, traditionally a supporter of free trade.

"We feel very confident that the approach he's taking ... will actually help resolve the underlying issues", he said.

"A trade war is never the right solution", Wang told reporters at a briefing on the sidelines of China's national legislative session, according to Bloomberg News.

On Thursday, before the signing in Washington, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi cautioned that his country is ready to respond if Mr. Trump increases pressure directly on a trading partner whose exports to the US totaled more than $500 billion compared to USA exports to China of about $130 billion previous year. The U.S. loses about $600 billion a year in IP theft, mostly to China, according to an opinion piece last year from Dennis C. Blair, a former director of national intelligence and a former commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Command; and Keith Alexander, former commander of the United States Cyber Command and a former director of the National Security Agency.

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U.S. partners blast Trump trade tariffs