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American Shipper

Flake introduces bill to block steel, aluminum tariffs

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz. introduced legislation Monday to block tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from taking effect March 23.

   Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., on Monday, introduced legislation to block President Donald Trump’s “Section 232” tariffs on steel and aluminum from taking effect.
   Trump last Thursday officially signed off on those tariffs, after separate Commerce Department-led investigations into the national security impacts of steel and aluminum imports. The tariffs are set to hit steel and aluminum imports at rates of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, at 12:01 a.m. March 23.
   Flake’s bill would prohibit implementation of changes to the Harmonized Tariff Schedule directed in Trump’s proclamations ordering the steel and aluminum tariffs, Flake’s office said in a statement.
   “Those who are happy with the economic growth we have recently achieved and are interested in seeing it continue ought to support this bill,” Flake said Monday on the Senate floor. “I urge my colleagues to join me in exercising our constitutional oversight to invalidate these irresponsible tariffs.”
   The EU plans to retaliate against the tariffs, and could bring a more immediate response than the typical time frame associated with the World Trade Organization dispute settlement mechanism, if the EU finds that U.S. imports of steel and/or aluminum weren’t growing in absolute terms during the subject period of Commerce’s tariff investigations, Peterson Institute for International Economics Chad Bown wrote in a Friday Washington Post op-ed.
   Trump tweeted Saturday, “The European Union, wonderful countries who treat the U.S. very badly on trade,” risks incurring a U.S. “tax” on cars exported from the region to the U.S., if the EU doesn’t scale back its trade barriers and tariffs.
   The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that European auto executives are warning that U.S. tariffs on European cars would force a reduction in investment in the U.S., in the event of a trade war.
   In addition to tit-for-tat retaliation, the EU could opt to impose its own safeguard tariffs to address an import surge that could result from the U.S. tightening its market, Bown said, adding that EU Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström has expressed such a concern.
   Meanwhile, the White House is exempting Australia from tariffs, according to a tweet Friday by the country’s prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.
   Turnbull was tweeting in response to Trump, who had tweeted that the two nations were working “on a security agreement.”
   In addition, Trump indicated in a press conference Thursday that both Canada and Mexico would be exempted from the tariffs, pending the outcome of the ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation talks.
   Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, meanwhile, is rejecting the idea that Canada’s exemption from the Section 232 tariffs is reliant on a successful renegotiation of NAFTA.
   “We don’t link together the tariffs and the negotiations for NAFTA, but we’re happy to continue to move forward on the negotiations,” Trudeau said in an interview on the CNBC program “Power Lunch.”
   He said that good progress has been made on the NAFTA negotiations in recent weeks, but that the exemptions were not a “magical favor” from Trump, arguing that the imposition of the tariffs would actually do as much harm to the United States as it would Canada.
   “The integration of our steel and aluminum market is so intense across the Canada-U.S. that millions of jobs on both sides of the border depend on the continued smooth flow of trade,” he said.
   Trudeau also mentioned what many trade analysts believe to be the true target of the steel tariffs: China, which Trump has accused of dumping product on the U.S. market by moving it through other countries.
   “There’s all sorts of concerns in the United States around overcapacity from China,” he said. “Well we have those capacities, and over the past two years as prime minister, we’re actually strengthened our border controls on imports of steel from China.
   “We’ve brought in new measures and we’re happy to do more on that,” he added. “But the point we’re making throughout is that whether it’s in the steel and aluminum industries or the national security side…there’s a level of integration and connection that means we’re going to keep having each other’s back.”

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