Hatim Khan- 10.03.2018 -The President of the United States Donald Trump has finally made his decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum official. Going against the opposition from within his own party as well as allies abroad since the news first broke last week Trump standing firm on his position announced on Thursday that the imposition of the tariffs shall take effect in 15 days. He said in a White House press conference after the authorization of the tariffs that, “The actions we are taking today are not a matter of choice; they are a matter of necessity for our security". Listening to advisors and critics however, Trump has granted exemption for "real friends" such as Canada and Mexico.
In opposition of Trump's zero-sum view of trade, the Chinese Foreign Minister warned US in a statement regarding the outcome of employing protectionist policies, saying, "Choosing a trade war is surely the wrong prescription, in the end you will only hurt others and yourself". Furthermore, he said that China will do everything in its power to make an "appropriate and necessary response". China maintains a massive trade surplus with the US and will be hit hard as a result of these tariffs.
The European Union commissioner for trade, Cecilia Malmstrom said that the EU shall be taking this issue to the World Trade Organization to protect European interests. She said that the EU shall hit back with tariffs that will hurt American-made goods and products. Earlier last week, Jean-Claude Juncker, European Commission president said that the EU shall by tariffs that hurt American producers such as Harley-Davidsons, Bourbon, and Levi’s all of which are popular in Europe and produced at the home states of senior Republicans such as Speaker of the House of Representatives and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Ryan did criticize the US President for not focusing the tariffs only on China in an effort to avoid facing the brunt of the EU retaliation, but his efforts came to absolutely no avail.
South Korea and Japan who are both very close allies of the US in Asia are also extremely unhappy with not being exempted from the steel tariffs of the US. Since the White House claimed that other Countries shall also be considered for the exemption like Canada and Mexico, the two Asian allies are said to be vigorously lobbying with the Trump administration in order to be exempted. The Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has always been a strong supporter of the Trump administration especially in their stance to apply “maximum pressure” on North Korea. South Korea on the other hand has been a crucial ally to the US, whose efforts have paid off in convincing the North Korean leader to give up on his nuclear arms and negotiate with US. South Korea’s steel industry in particular will be negatively impacted being the third largest exporter of steel to US after Canada and Brazil and accounting for 3.6 million tonnes of steel to the US last year.
Apart from EU, China, South Korea and Japan, other Countries are also likely to respond to US decision to implement tariffs and employ protectionist policies in the realm of international trade. More collective efforts to counter US are already being seen, as 11 Pacific Rim countries signed regional free trade agreements to increase trade among them and slash tariffs. This took place on Thursday as well and was perhaps organized to show the resolve of these countries and their willingness to counter protectionism through the promotion of more free and fair global trade. It should be noted that the Pacific trade pact had been abandoned by Trump as soon as he assumed his role as the President in the White House.