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Tuesday 18 December 2018

Donald Trump warns Canada and Mexico over steel and aluminium tariffs

The US president suggested that the bordering countries would not get exemptions without renegotiated trade terms.

President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk across the South Lawn of the White House (Pablo
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump walk across the South Lawn of the White House (Pablo

By Zeke Miller and Kevin Freking

President Donald Trump has said North American neighbours Canada and Mexico will get no relief from his new tariffs on steel and aluminium imports unless a “new and fair” free trade agreement is signed.

The Trump administration says the tariffs are necessary to preserve the American industries and that doing so is a national security imperative.

But MrTrump’s latest tweets suggest he is also using the upcoming tariffs as leverage in ongoing talks to revise the North American Free Trade Agreement. The latest round of a nearly year-long renegotiation effort is concluding this week in Mexico City.

The tariffs will be made official in the next two weeks, White House officials said, as the administration defended the protectionist decision from critics in Washington and overseas.

Speaking on Fox And Friends on Monday, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said: “25% on steel, and the 10% on aluminium, no country exclusions, firm line in the sand.”

Mr Trump’s pronouncement last week that he would impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, shook markets and rankled allies. The president appeared unbowed on Sunday, as he tweeted that American “Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change!”

The across-the-board action breaks with the recommendation of the Pentagon, which pushed for more targeted tariffs on metals imports from countries like China and warned that a wide-ranging move would jeopardise national security partnerships.

But US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, whose agency oversaw reviews of the industries that recommended the tariffs, said on ABC’s This Week that Mr Trump is “talking about a fairly broad brush”.

Republican senator Lindsey Graham said the sweeping action would let China “off the hook”, adding the tariffs would drive a wedge between the US and its allies.

“China wins when we fight with Europe,” he said on CBS’s Face The Nation. ”China wins when the American consumer has higher prices because of tariffs that don’t affect Chinese behaviour.”

Mr Trump has threatened to tax European cars if the EU boosts tariffs on American products in response to the president’s plan to increase duties on steel and aluminium.

Prime Minister Theresa May raised her “deep concern” at the tariff announcement in a phone call with Mr Trump on Sunday. Mrs May’s office says she noted that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity.

Press Association

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