Unswayed by Republican warnings of a trade war, President Donald Trump ordered steep new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to the USA on Thursday, vowing to fight back against an "assault on our country" by foreign competitors.
The tweet echoes comments he made a week ago when he suddenly announced his intention to impose a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum.
Annoy the president, which considering his renowned hypersensitivity is easy, and those tariffs are slapped on Canadian steel and aluminum shipped south of the border.
And now he's committed Canada to an 11-nation trade partnership with Pacific Rim countries without USA involvement, a deal that will permit, among other things, more foreign auto imports into Canada - which has already infuriated US automakers and Canada's auto workers.
The prospect of across-the-board tariffs that would affect both America's allies and nations with massive US trade surpluses made some in the White House uneasy, especially chief economic adviser Gary Cohn, who announced his resignation this week. "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. "We'll be doing something with some other countries".
It further includes the flexibility for the Trump administration to add or remove countries from the list of those subject to the levy.
"We want a lot of steel coming into our country, but we want it to be fair, we want our workers to be protected", Trump said Thursday before signing an order on the tariffs.
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"If we reach a deal it is most likely that we won't be charging those two countries the tariffs", he said, adding that Australia would also be spared.
Trump, who invited steel and aluminum workers to the White house ceremony, said by instituting the new tariffs, the United States will be able to better protect its national security, economy and workers.
"Everything you have for breakfast", Malmstroem said.
His Twitter message, promising "great flexibility and cooperation" with U.S. allies, signaled Trump is willing to exclude some countries from the tariffs for national security reasons. "We have to chose whether we want rules-based trade. or whether we want the rule of force, the rule of the strongest, which we have now seen".
For now, Trump agreed to exempt, Canada and Mexico and held out the possibility of later excluding allies like Australia.
The Ministry of Commerce said in a statement Friday that China will take "strong measures' to protect its own interests and warned the USA government's actions will "seriously shake" the global trade order".
He repeatedly argued that exemptions would throw the whole thing out of whack, saying that "as soon as you exempt one country, then you have to exempt another country". The tariffs will take effect in 15 days, according to White House officials. At the same time, the number of workers in the steel industry has fallen off, so the real decline in the United States steel industry employment may be from technology and productivity gains, rather than foreign steel.