In his first term in office, President Trump has showcased his interest to reduce some of the trade abuses affecting America’s economy. First on his list is the imposition of tariffs on the importation of steel from Mexico, European Union (EU), and Canada. The crackdown is expected to focuses on the increment of importation taxes with 10% imposition on aluminum and 25% on steel imports (Fergusson, 2017). On the same, Trumps administration placed quotas on other nations such as Argentina, Brazil, South Korea, and Australia.
With these actions, condemnation trickled down from the affected countries with all fingers pointing at President Trump. For instance, the European Commissioner Jean-Claude Junker termed the quotas and tariffs as “uncalled for.” The President of the commission asserted that the EU would take countermeasures in response to the “unjustified actions” by the Trump administration (Gathii, 2018). The British spokesman also condoned the actions and lamented that the United Kingdom (UK) was deeply disappointed by the move. According to the British administration, allies to the US should be exempted from the import quotas and tariffs. Mexico also responded to the sudden action by the US and asserted to impose similar tariffs on United States.
As highlighted in the introduction, the imposition of import tariffs falls under a sting of action by the US targeting what the administration terms as “trade abuses.” While the actions are likely to trigger a trade war with foreign trade giants, Trump insists on advancing on further tariffs in order to secure US jobs and secure markets for American companies (CNBC, 2018). To complement his actions, aluminum and steel fabricators cheered the actions by the presidency after a surge in shared of local firms such as AK Steel and U.S Steel in the stock market. In addition, the US dollar gained against the Mexican Peso and Canadian dollar while S&P 500 and Dow Jones hit a record low hours after the news on Trumps actions.
It goes without saying that the tariffs hurt the trade from foreign countries. Nevertheless, the US administration insists that the actions are part of a revolutionized trade idea that seeks to address some of the trade abuses by China. However, these actions come amidst the revision of the North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) involving Mexico and Canada. Thus, the rapid action by Trump’s office worked to increase tensions between the member countries. While addressing members of the press, the commerce secretary explained the verdict by the American President citing that “…the NAFTA talks took too long and that the US had no hopes in them” (Mayeda, 2018). Weeks after the decision was made, the EU has attempted to engage the US in trade talks in a bid to warrant them exemption or reduced tariffs. However, these actions are yet to bore any substantial fruits (Lee, 2017).
Locally, some of the American citizens have praised their leader for taking the initiative to discourage the importation of steel and aluminum. According to the National Association of Manufacturers, the continued excess importation of metal products has hurt the economy over the past years. As a result, the recent action promotes local trades and boosts employment to American citizens. On the same thread, few lawmakers and politicians have openly criticized the move to impose tariffs on American allies. As explained by Senator Ben Sasse, the sudden move to turn against the members of NAFTA was dumb and unjustified. According to the legislator, the US government should not treat its allies in the same manner in which it treats its opponents. Other representatives of the House, Mitch McConnell and Paul Ryan in separate meetings challenged the actions of the presidency and promised to raise the issues concerning international trade and trade treaties.
Increased criticism continue to pour concerning tariff impositions on Canada, EU, and Mexico. In a statement to the press, the Speaker of the House revealed that the move was at odds with the rules provided for by the World Trade Organization (WTO). Other economists have come to shed more light in to the matter. According to Mark Amber, a university professor, the trade environment is hurt by overcapacity of the industry and not the intervention in imports by member countries. Thus, the EU is now suffering for the results it did not stir. Therefore, through the punishment of the innocent Trump’s administration is playing the game in favor of those causing the overcapacity. This means that the challenges will continue and swell in the near future.
In the past few months, the victim countries are designing a tit-for-tat countermeasure against the United States. For example, the European Union is identifying a series of US products to target which include motorbikes, Rice, and bourbon. With Mexico being similarly aggravated, the Latin states plans to impose tariffs on importation of fruits, Lamps, and Cheese from America. In addition, these countries are preparing a dispute settlement with the WTO, which will see the addition of duties and tariffs on American imports. The collective activation of these measures will hurt other industries in the US through the decrease in export sales. In the long run, the country also faces the loss in employment and foreign exchange.
The combative nature of Trump’s administration is likely to backfire on the economy. Understandably, the US President is under pressure to fulfill his promises on trade partners to improve business in America. However, the aggressive strategy now creates uncertainty with the tampering of the tariffs from the closest trade allies with the US. As it stands, the world is watching to see the unfolding of a potential trade war where America is likely to become the victim since it is set to battle global giants such as China, Mexico, Canada, and the European Union.
- CNBC (2018). Trump Administration will put Steel and Aluminum Tariffs on Canada, Mexico, and the EU. Internet source published on 31st May 2018, updated on 1st June 2018.
- Fergusson, I. F. (2017). United States-Canada trade and economic relationship: Prospects and Challenges. Canadian Imports and Trade Issues.
- Gathii, T. (2018). Foreign Precedents in the Federal Judiciary: The Case of the World Trade Organization’s DSB Decisions. Ga. J International & Comp.
- Lee, J. (2017). Skepticism, Unilateralism or Ultimatumism: Trump Administration’s Trade Policy and the Korea-US FTA. Asian j. WTTO & Int’l Health L. & Pol’y 12.
- Mayeda, A. (2018, May 1). Lighthizer Says the U.S. Is Aiming for a Nafta Deal in May. Retrieved from https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-05-01/ross-says-nafta-talks-could-drag-on-despite-hopes-for-may-finish