Fears of global trade war as Trump stands his ground

Fears of global trade war as Trump stands his ground

Kerry Wise
March 9, 2018

President Donald Trump's description of "shithole countries" in January was greeted with a mix of horror and outrage in Africa, where many don't know what to think about the USA president - or what he thinks of them.

And by Wednesday afternoon, during the daily press briefing at the White House, press secretary Sarah Sanders told reporters there could be potential carve-outs.

Action that does not include exemptions risks retaliatory tariffs on US exports - not least by Canada and Europe - and complicates already tough talks on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Mr. Trump's announcement last week that he will impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent tariff on imported aluminum has been met with opposition, but so far, he hasn't given any indication that he's backing down.

The European Union has drawn up a list of USA products - from bourbon to Harley Davidson motorbikes - on which to apply tariffs if Trump goes ahead.

The White House downplayed the idea Cohn resigned over more aggressive trade policies, but only moments before the announcement, Trump showed no signs of backing down even in the face of opposition from his own party.

Despite the threat of an impending trade war, Asian shares performed better overnight as the concessions for Canada and Mexico suggested that the policy would not be as severe as feared. "By everybody. And we can not let that happen any longer", Trump said during a joint press conference with Swedish Prime Minister Stefan Lofven.

Trump has also accused China of transshipping steel to the United States through other countries. "He understands business. He is looking out for American companies and American workers with trade deals that are just not fair", he said.

"If we can work something out with Canada and Mexico, they will be exempted", Ross was quoted by NBC News as saying.

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White House trade adviser Peter Navarro told Fox Business Network that aides will be in the Oval Office at 3:30 p.m. ET "with a bunch of men and women from steel country and aluminum country coming in to see the president".

More than a hundred Republican congressmen sent him a letter expressing their "deep concern" about the consequences of tariffs and recommending more targeted measures.

"I am grateful to the president for giving me this opportunity and wish him and the administration great success in the future", said Cohn.

How much room for negotiation does SA have with the U.S. on this issue?

There is a glimmer of hope Australia may be able to secure an exemption from proposed U.S. steel and aluminium tariffs after the White House opened up some wriggle room on national security grounds. "All we get for that is a half a trillion dollar a year trade deficit that offshores our wealth, offshores our jobs".

Japan has requested that the United States exempt it from the planned measure, saying Japanese steel and aluminum exports do not pose a threat to USA national security.

"In a so-called trade war ... nobody wins, one generally finds losers on both sides", International Monetary Fund head Christine Lagarde said on Wednesday, adding that a trade war would take a "formidable" toll on global economic growth.

Asian stocks opened lower Wednesday amid fears the American president would embark on a more protectionist drive, despite United States stocks finishing higher partly due to expectations for a detente in the Korean peninsula but with investors still struggling to discern whether Trump would follow through on restrictive trade measures.