Trump's trade wars threaten global stability

President Donald Trump shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping on Nov. 9 2017

President Trump ordered a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum even though concerns among Congressional members, business and agriculture were raised about the increasing possibility of a trade war, increased cost of production for many industries and the effect on relationships with key allies.

"In addition, there will be a mechanism for USA parties to apply for the exclusion of specific products based on demand that is unmet by domestic production or on specific national security considerations".

"If you don't want to pay tax, bring your plant to the US", added Trump, flanked by steel and aluminum workers. Plans for the tariffs, set to start in 15 days, have stirred opposition from business leaders and prominent members of Trump's own Republican Party, who fear the duties could spark retaliation from other countries and hurt the USA economy.

Senator Jeff Flake, who has clashed with the White House before on other issues, strongly condemned Trump's tariff implementation, saying that "Congress can not be complicit as the administration courts economic disaster" and vowing to introduce legislation that would nullify the tariffs. Republican Orrin Hatch, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said he would work with the White House to "mitigate the damage". And Sen. Jeff Flake said he was already working on legislation to nullify the tariffs.

The Center for LNG, a liquefied natural gas industry group, plans to seek an exemption because some of the five kinds of steels it uses aren't available from United States sources. At another point, during a meeting with steel and aluminum executives, Trump urged Cohn to engage in a debate with U.S. Steel CEO Dave Burritt, according to two people familiar with the exchange and not authorized to discuss it publicly.

That's the message from President Trump's commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, who told NPR's Rachel Martin Friday that the president's orders for new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum won't have the negative impact on the economy many are predicting.

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

"Today is a step forward", Chrystia Freeland, Canada's foreign minister, told reporters in Toronto Thursday.

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Despite lingering uncertainty about how long the exemption will last, the Mexican peso rose against the USA dollar after the president's announcement and the Canadian dollar also regained ground it had lost against the greenback.

On Thursday, as he unveiled steep new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, Trump declared that the United States had a trade deficit with China of "at least $500 billion", adding that if losses on intellectual property were counted, "it's much bigger than that".

EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said the bloc was "not preparing for battle" but had to be ready to protect its industry.

As a journalist, amid all the sound and fury of the daily news cycle, it is good to be reminded of how little most of it matters to many of his supporters.

The White House tariff announcement came ahead of a visit to Hamilton and other steel- and aluminum-producing cities that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is planning for Tuesday.

Countermeasures could include European Union tariffs on U.S. oranges, tobacco and bourbon. That has put him at odds with many in his Republican Party, traditionally a supporter of free trade. "We work together. We can not possibly be a threat to national security in the USA, so we are counting on being excluded", she said. "Trade wars are easy to get in but hard to get out of".

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. "China would have to make a justified and necessary response".

Mr Trump frequently laments the persistent trade deficits the United States runs against other major economies, notably China, Japan and Germany, and refers to these deficits to justify protectionist measures.

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