Friday, June 01, 2018

Steel and aluminum tariffs take effect for European Union, Mexico and Canada, sparking retaliatory tariffs

"President Trump on Thursday imposed tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from the European Union, Canada and Mexico, triggering immediate retaliation from U.S. allies and protests from American businesses and farmers," David Lynch, Josh Dawsey and Damian Paletta report for The Washington Post.

The European Union responded by saying it would follow through on threats to impose tariffs on American-made products from politically strategic areas, like bourbon from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's home state of Kentucky and Harley-Davidson motorcycles, which are popular in Europe. Mexico said it would impose tariffs on American pork bellies, apples, cranberries, grapes, some cheeses and types of steel. Canada said it would impose $12.8 billion in tariffs on American steel and aluminum, along with coffee, candy, quiche and pizza. Canada also rejected a U.S. ultimatum to renegotiate all North American trade deals every five years.

"Mexico's retaliatory tariffs target pork legs, apples, grapes and cheeses as well as steel - products from U.S. heartland states that supported Trump in the 2016 election," report Michael O'Boyle and Frank Jack Daniel of Reuters.

Economist Douglas Irwin, author of a history of U.S. trade policy since 1763, told the Post, "It’s more than highly unusual. It’s unprecedented to have gone after so many U.S. allies and trading partners, alienating them and forcing them to retaliate. It’s hard to see how the U.S. is going to come out well from this whole exercise."

With the steel and aluminum tariffs looming, some businesses with government protection have added jobs, but other industries such as chemical manufacturers, brewers, footwear makers and auto manufacturers say the jobs lost because of the tariffs will outweigh the jobs saved or created.

"This is dumb. Europe, Canada and Mexico are not China, and you don’t treat allies the same way you treat opponents," Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) said. "We’ve been down this road before — blanket protectionism is a big part of why America had a Great Depression. 'Make America Great Again' shouldn’t mean 'Make America 1929 Again'."

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