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American Shipper

Top trade officials say steel, aluminum tariffs still on track to be finalized this week

President Donald Trump is still aiming to follow through in assessing broad tariffs on steel and aluminum imports this week, top executive branch trade officials affirmed Sunday.

   Top executive branch trade officials on Sunday affirmed that President Donald Trump aims to follow through in assessing broad tariffs on steel and aluminum imports this week.
   Trump initially announced expected tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum from all countries last Thursday, pursuant to “Section 232” national security import investigations, led by the Commerce Department, which were completed in January. Statutorily, Trump is allowed to extend the announcement of his final decision to mid-April.
   Asked by “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos whether a “formal announcement” of steel and aluminum tariffs would happen this week, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said, “I believe so. I don’t know exactly what day, because the lawyers are working away. But sometime this week.”
   Peter Navarro, assistant to the President, director of trade and industrial policy, also affirmed on CNN’s “State of the Union” that tariffs would likely be formally finalized by the White House’s Office of Legal Counsel with a proclamation signed by Trump “towards the end of the week; at the very latest, it would be the following week.”
   Trump has gone on a “tweetstorm” since the day of the initial tariff announcement, kicking it off in a 5:50 a.m. Friday post that “trade wars are good, and easy to win” when a country is “losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with.” He added, “Example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore-we win big. It’s easy!”
   The EU reacted to Thursday’s announcement by swiftly threatening retaliation, with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker saying the proposed tariffs don’t seem to be based on “any national security justification.”
   Juncker added that the EU in the next few days will bring forward a proposal for World Trade Organization-compatible “countermeasures” against the U.S. to “rebalance” the situation.
   The EU later warned that it would retaliate against exports of Harley-Davidson motorcycles, jeans and bourbon if the U.S. follows through.
   Trump responded to that by threatening on Twitter a “tax” on European cars, which he said “freely pour into the U.S.,” adding how “they make it impossible for our cars (and more) to sell there. Big trade imbalance!”
   Then, Trump on Monday morning appeared to link the imposition of tariffs to the ongoing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) renegotiation, saying any tariffs on steel and aluminum would “only come off if a new & fair NAFTA agreement is signed.”
   He also called for Canada to “treat our farmers much better,” noting they are “highly restrictive,” and said Mexico should do “more on stopping drugs from pouring into the U.S.”
   At the time of this writing, Trump’s last tweet about the 232 tariffs, timestamped at 7:57 a.m. on Monday, was, “To protect our Country, we must protect American Steel! #AMERICA FIRST.”

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