Chorus of condemnation intensifies in U.S. over trade tariff


News Analysis |

Massive US tariffs have come into force as condemnation of the Trump administration’s move intensifies. Top congressional Republicans joined the collective criticism of the tax imposed on the import of steel and aluminum from the EU, Canada and Mexico.

The leaders from the affected nations reacted furiously, sensing the covetous intentions of the American President in the face of harmony in the global industrial community.

They immediately retaliated by setting out tit-for-tat tariffs on the US, ranging from steel to sleeping bags and ballpoint pens. France’s president, Emmanuel Macron, shared a telephonic conversation with Donald Trump, where he called the US move “illegal” and claimed that the EU would respond in a “firm and proportionate manner”, as reported by the Elysee Palace. The French President normally enjoys a good relationship with his US counterpart, however, this move could introduce a new disposition between the two, in the future.

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The American President has justified the tariffs, which came into force at midnight Washington DC time (04:00 GMT Friday), by arguing that US steel and aluminum producers are vital to national security and threatened by a global supply glut. “If you don’t want to pay tax, bring your plant to the USA,” added Trump, flanked by steel and aluminum workers.

That rationale was openly rejected by the majority, including allies. The Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, described that claim as an affront and commented, “That Canada could be considered a national security threat to the United States, is inconceivable”. The UK International Trade Secretary Liam Fox said the 25% levy on steel was “patently absurd.” “It would be a great pity if we ended up in a tit for tat trade dispute with our closest allies,” he said.

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Mexican Foreign Minister, Luis Videgaray, replied by announcing that his country would also impose duties: “We will continue to defend the interests of Mexico, just as we have done until now.” Opposition to the tariffs was joined by congressional Republicans. “I disagree with this decision,” House Speaker Paul Ryan, the most influential Republican in Congress, said in a statement.

He further expressed his sentiments by saying “Today’s action targets America’s allies when we should be working with them to address the unfair trading practices of countries like China.” Trump first announced plans for the tariffs in March, but granted some exemptions while countries negotiated. The US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, on Thursday, said that talks with the EU, Canada and Mexico had not made enough progress to warrant a further reprieve, however, chances are exemptions for the said countries will take place.

This is not the first time Trump has introduced controversial policies and ideas.

In the past, he has brought detrimental changes to the American health-policies, stood off blatantly in opposition to aiding refugees and called Mexican immigrants: drug-addicted criminals and rapists, in an open speech.

Where the American President has, supposedly, imposed these taxes in favor of his country’s capital growth through forcing his industries to become self-sufficient, this move has been unanimously agreed to be outright hostile to the global community. As admitted by several country-presidents, dirty backlash and tit for tat disputes can be sensed around the corner. Tariffs of 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, officially go into effect today.

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