Trump's Impulsive Trade War Is Lousy Economics and Worrisome Politics

An employee performs a quality check on a steel slab at the Stelco Holdings plant in Nanticoke

An employee performs a quality check on a steel slab at the Stelco Holdings plant in Nanticoke

Trump said on Thursday that tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminium, created to safeguard American jobs in the face of cheaper foreign products, would be formally announced next week.

For certain grades of steel, the United States can not show there was any increase of imports a year ago, the European Union sources say, meaning it would not be allowed to apply safeguard measures to them.

The overall industrials group slipped 0.4 per cent, while the financials group, which accounts for more than one-third of the weight of the TSX, declined 0.2 per cent. He said the European Commission would take the matter to the World Trade Organisation.

Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland said that Canada buys more than half of American steel, resulting in a US$2 billion surplus for the U.S. She also said it's "entirely inappropriate" for the consider the country a threat to national security.

Brussels will join other countries in challenging the measures at the WTO and says it will also look into safeguards.

However, they would have to apply to selected steel grades from all countries and so would hit producers from China, India, Russia, South Korea or Turkey. Steel and aluminum production in the USA has been hammered by overseas competitors who have flooded the market with cheaper goods.

Meanwhile, a senior adviser to Chinese President Xi Jinping had flown in for an urgent meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, Gary Cohn, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, reportedly to try to head off a trade war. It has been advocating for protection against what it says are unfair trade practices by China.

Meanwhile, on the other side of the Atlantic, European leaders were doing everything in their power to persuade the president that he was mistaken - that this trade war would be bad, and very hard to win.

Perez-Rocha, the Institute for Policy Studies fellow, said: "A full blown trade war is unsafe for both sides".

As well, Canada ranks as the number one buyer of American steel, which, according to the Canadian Steel Producers Association, evenly balances the total trade to CAN $12 billion yearly.

According to news agency Reuters, EU officials began drawing up a list of $3.5 billion-worth (€2.8 billion) of United States goods that would be subject to a 25 percent tariff.

"It will. I mean it's actually kind of going the opposite direction", he said.

ArcelorMittal, the world´s biggest steel maker with sizeable European and U.S. operations, said it was assessing the likely impact, although it said governments were right to take a tough approach to unfair trade. The Smoot-Hawley tariffs and the retaliation they provoked contributed to the Great Depression and the collapse of the world economy. It has maintained a persistent trade deficit in steel for more than a decade, importing about four times as much steel than it exported past year.

According to Ross's report, foreign competition harms the US steel and aluminum industries and could have a domino effect.

The EU said it will impose retaliatory measures in the wake of the move, but will await the formal imposition of the new U.S. measures next week before taking action. The new measures are slated to pit steel jobs against other manufacturing jobs. That may not prevent increased costs for Toyota and other carmakers, because those suppliers use imported material, which they process into other steel or aluminum products, Bloomberg reported.

"Yerxa said the national security basis for the tariffs had never been applied to allies".

Latest News