House GOP asks Trump for reversal on tariffs

08 Mars, 2018, 19:59 | Auteur: Mathilde Kaplan
  • US President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with members of his Cabinet in the Cabinet Room of the White House

Trump said last week that Canada and Mexico could avoid tariffs if they make concessions in ongoing negotiations to re-work the North American Free Trade Agreement. Anyone from the protectionist school in the NEC job would turn the West Wing into a team of mercantilists, with potentially ruinous results for Wall Street and the broader economy.

"Secretary of Defense James Mattis, in a letter to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, endorsed the administration's concerns over Chinese overproduction, but prudently warned, "(Defense Department) continues to be concerned about the negative impact on our key allies regarding the recommended options (i.e. tariffs) in the report".

Presidential counselor Kellyanne Conway said Thursday on the Fox News Channel that 'the president has called a meeting today at 3:30.

The president could not be more wrong.

"I think he's wrong on a lot of things", said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah, who opposes the tariffs. Trump tweeted hours before Wang took the stage in Beijing. We certainly wish the trio the best of luck in Washington tomorrow.

The White House said Wednesday that Mexico, Canada and other countries may be spared from tariffs under national security "carve-outs". The plan has roiled markets and drawn consternation from American allies, Republican free-trade advocates, and the business community.

"This scenario would lead to the exact opposite outcome of the administration's stated objective, which is to protect American jobs", Walker said.

House GOP asks Trump for reversal on tariffs
House GOP asks Trump for reversal on tariffs

The president's mind is currently occupied with the upcoming midterm elections in November, where voters will pay more attention to effective policy statements than to provocative slogans. As recently as Sunday, the top White House trade adviser, Peter Navarro, said on CNN that "at this point in time, there will be no country exclusions". And a steel mill that makes one type of steel product, such as sheet steel used in the body of a car, can't easily be converted to make another type of steel product, such as pipelines or tubing. For days, Canadian officials could not get a clear answer from the White House on whether the levies would apply to Canada. These include his chief of staff, Reince Priebus; his press secretary, Sean Spicer; three communications directors, Michael Dubke, Anthony Scaramucci and Hope Hicks; his chief strategist, Steve Bannon; his Secretary of Health, Tom Price; his national security adviser, Michael Flynn, for his involvement in the Russia business; FBI director James Comey, famously, for investigating it; his deputy, Andrew McCabe; and of course, Omarosa Manigault, the former Apprentice contestant whose precise duties at the White House remain a mystery. He persuaded Clinton to manage a responsible fiscal policy, raising taxes early on, despite cries of doom from the Republicans.

Navarro consistently fails to recognize that the US trade balance is arithmetically the difference between a country's savings and investment rate; it is not determined by the level of a country's import tariffs. If the experience with the Smoot-Hawley Trade Act of 1930 is anything by which to go, the US economic recovery could very well be derailed by such a trade war.

Across the border, the prime minister's top ministers and diplomats have pleaded Canada's case to Republican leaders with close ties to the White House.

New market liberalization agreements are also entering into force, notably the Trans-Pacific Partnership, which is being signed March 8 in Chile by 11 countries, even though the 12th, the U.S., pulled out.

Global stocks ended mixed and then opened higher in Asia on Thursday, boosted partly by easing fears of a trade war.

With an expected increase in US steel demand, United States Steel Corp said it would restart one of two blast furnaces and steel-making facilities and rehire 500 employees at its Granite City, Illinois, plant. The news is a boost for regional exporters given China's outsized role in global trade.

More warnings are coming in response to President Donald Trump's plan to impose tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum.

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