US lawmakers oppose Trump’s tariff move on EU, key allies

Photo of White House from www.whitehouse.gov

Photo of White House from www.whitehouse.gov

In a backlash to the Trump administration’s decision to impose harsh tariffs on steel and aluminium, top American lawmakers and industry leaders have opposed the move. The United States decided to levy 25 per cent import duty on steel and 15 per cent on aluminium from key allies, including the European Union, Canada and Mexico.

Lawmakers from the ruling Republican Party described it as a bad move that would have damaging consequences.  The US Chambers of Commerce said the decision threatened as many as 2.6 million jobs in the US.

“Right strategy. Wrong target. The President and his administration have repeatedly and correctly stated that China’s non-reciprocal, mercantilist policies pose the biggest economic threat to America, our workers, and the US-led global trading system,” Senator Dan Sullivan said.

Another Republican senator, Orrin Hatch, President Pro Tempore of the United States Senate and Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, said the new tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium from the European Union, Canada, and Mexico were a tax hike on Americans and would have damaging consequences for consumers, manufacturers and workers.

“We should build on our success in overhauling the nation’s tax code with complementary trade policies that, rather than favouring one narrow industry, make all sectors of the US economy more competitive. In light of the mounting evidence that these tariffs will harm Americans, I will continue to push the administration to change course,” he said.

The US Chambers of Commerce chief executive Tom Donohue in a memorandum to his board of directors said this would threaten some 2.6 million jobs in the country.

The US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the administration was implementing steel and aluminium tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union following months of discussions to address the United States’ national security concerns.

On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced that he was taking action to protect America’s national security from the effects of global oversupply of steel and aluminium. The tariffs would be implemented on steel and aluminium imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union from June 1.

The US reached an arrangement with South Korea on steel, which was announced on April 30. It also reached arrangements on steel with Australia, Argentina and Brazil, and with Australia and Argentina on aluminium. However, the US was unable to reach satisfactory arrangements with Canada, Mexico or the European Union after repeatedly delaying tariffs to allow more time for discussions.

(with agency inputs)