Trump signs off on steel, aluminum tariffs

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Last week, President Donald Trump announced new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

"Under the direction of the president, the USTR is responsible for negotiations with countries that seek an alternative means to the steel and aluminium tariffs", the White House said. Both come into effect in 15 days.

"Undoubtedly, the resulting higher steel and aluminum prices are clearly nothing more than a tax on the American people".

Railroad tracks run past the blast furnaces of the now-closed Bethlehem Steel mill in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, April 21, 2016. But the tariff regime was softened at the last minute to spare Canada and Mexico, albeit temporarily, while the USA and its neighbours renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement.

The United States President imposed import duty on steel and aluminium.

With the current setup, the USA president is taking the position that if the US doesn't get the concessions it wants from NAFTA talks, Canadian metal producers could soon find themselves subject to the same punitive tariff as everyone else.

The senior administration official lambasted critics of the president's tariffs saying, "Nobody inside the beltway should express any sort of surprise".

Administration officials said the tariffs would apply to every country in the world except Canada and Mexico, two key USA allies. "It's going to be a very fair process, it's going to be very fair to other countries - especially those that treat us well", he said.

Trump said the tariff hikes ordered Thursday were needed to protect United States national security by ensuring the survival of the country's metals producers. "Global steel producers who have previously exported to the United States no longer can, because the prices are too high as a result of the tariffs", he added.

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And Sen. Jeff Flake said he was already working on legislation to nullify the tariffs.

"We have a very close relationship with Australia, we have a trade surplus with Australia, great country, long term partner, we'll be doing something with them", he said. "In a globalized world it is particularly unhelpful as it will harm the initiator as well as the target country", China's Foreign Minister Wang Yi said. USA trade chief Robert Lighthizer will be in charge of working out deals with other partners.

The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss internal deliberations, said an announcement on the findings of the report - and possible retaliatory actions - was expected within the next three weeks.

"Unfair trading practices from countries like China have distorted the global steel and aluminum markets".

"I'm not saying every single one will be dealt with", Mnuchin said in response to questions from reporters in NY.

"The short answer is, we don't know the specifics yet", said Orr, who was assistant USA trade representative in President George H.W. Bush's administration.

"Under the WTO rules, the European Union can not put in these kinds of tariffs except after the WTO has found that the move by the USA violated the WTO rules", Ross said. Trump said in his tweet. "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.

"We want our workers to be protected and we want, frankly, our companies to be protected".

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