Facing a midnight deadline on whether to impose tariffs on aluminum and steel from Canada, Mexico and the European Union, the White House announced Monday night it would give the allies another 30-day reprieve while seeking a final agreement on trade issues.
The Trump administration enacted tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, on imports of steel and aluminum in late March, temporarily exempting a handful of close trading partners. The allies have been pressing U.S. officials to make the exemptions permanent — a move the White House has resisted as it continues to seek an updated North American Free Trade Agreement with Mexico and Canada. However, permanent exemptions were given to South Korea, Argentina, Australia and Brazil.
China has retaliated by imposing tariffs on a variety of U.S.-made goods, including HVAC equipment, and filing a complaint with the World Trade Organization. The EU has threatened to follow suit if it is not granted a permanent exemption.
The Alliance for American Manufacturing, a lobbying group made up of U.S. steel companies and the United Steelworkers union, urged President Donald Trump to keep the tariffs against China.
“Withdrawing the threat of tariffs without achieving meaningful results would be tantamount to waving the white flag of trade surrender — signaling to China and other trade cheats that there will be no consequences for predatory trade behaviors,” alliance President Scott Paul said in a statement.
But the Coalition of American Manufacturers and Users, which represents steel and aluminum consumers, used the president’s announcement as an opportunity to point out the damage the taxes are causing to their members.
“We are disappointed that the president did not act last night to end the uncertainty in the metals market by ending the threat of tariffs on steel and aluminum,” said coalition spokesman Paul Nathanson. “Our member companies are already seeing prices spike by more than 30 percent for steel and delivery times have more than tripled in many cases. That’s because a tariff — or the threat of a tariff — on the imports of a product not only raises the price of the imported product, but also allows the domestic industry to raise the price of its products. Domestic steelmakers do not produce enough steel to meet demand nor, in many cases, do they supply the type of steel needed for steel-consuming U.S. manufacturers. The result is that these manufacturers will pay more for steel and aluminum in the U.S. than anywhere in the world. ... We call on President Trump to enter into global negotiations about overcapacity for steel and aluminum before these trade wars cost tens of thousands of U.S. jobs.”