Main concern about new tariffs: Trade war

Harley-Davidson bikes could be in the firing line in trade war

The European Union warned before the announcement that it was ready to retaliate with counter-measures against iconic us products such as Harley Davidson motorcycles, Levi's jeans and bourbon.

"It's all about pressure", CTV analyst Craig Oliver said of Trump's announcement. For goods only, the deficit was a massive $810 billion.

Fears of an all-out trade war have risen since Trump announced the planned tariffs - 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminium - last week.

The White House says President Donald Trump will sign orders to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on Thursday afternoon. Other countries can apply for exemptions, according to the administration, although details of when they would be granted were thin.

While Trump has tweeted that he will show flexibility to countries that treat the United States fairly on trade a military issues, it seems with this administration, anything can change.

The policy comes as little surprise, since Trump routinely condemned what he characterized as bad trade policies with the likes of China and Japan and vowed to revive American manufacturing by addressing America's trade posture.

These statements, however, are not highlighted by precision: in 2017 the USA trade deficit was 566,000 million dollars (375,000 with China), being that the record was a deficit of 708,000 million in 2008, according to official data.

In Mexico, the main United States negotiator, Robert Lighthizer, said that the revision of the pact was slower than expected with only six chapters completed with 30 pending, since the parties began negotiations in August 2017.

Other world leaders expressed hope that deals would be made with the Trump administration to avoid tit-for-tat tariffs.

Charlie Chesbrough, senior economist for Cox Automotive, said Thursday the tariff plan appears to lack a clear, long-term direction for trade strategy and poses "a big problem for the automotive industry". She will meet U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Trade Minister Hiroshige Seko in Brussels on Saturday when she will ask whether the European Union is to be included in the tariffs.

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USA steel executives were cheering the president's move at the White House on Thursday, but even their industry will pay a price in the long run.

Mexican national steel association Canacero has welcomed the decision by the United States government to temporarily exclude Mexico-origin steel from its new Section 232 import tariffs, but has voiced concerns about the growth of redirected import flows.

He said he looks at vacant land along Lake Erie, not far from where he used to work, and imagines a new steel mill rising and a new era beginning.

However, the president exempted Canada and Mexico from the tariffs as the three North American nations continue their contentious renegotiations of the 24-year-old North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). The EU is targeting iconic US brands produced in key Republican constituencies on a range of consumer, agricultural and steel products that will be levied if Trump goes through on his tariff threat, according to a list drawn up by the European Commission.

And there is now a race for the rest of the world to catch the exemption train, before it leaves the station in two weeks' time.

Canada and Mexico are exempt from the order for now, but Trump said he would add or drop countries from the tariffs and raise or lower the penalty as he sees fit.

Trump has said he could exempt some nations from the new tariffs, amid threats of retaliation from USA trading partners and warnings from his own party that the move will hurt American businesses and consumers.

Mr Brady and more than 100 House Republicans urged Mr Trump on Wednesday to use narrowly focused tariffs to take action against China and other countries instead of across-the-board measures.

"Tariffs can be an appropriate punitive tool when people are cheating the system, however, I'm not sure the administration has thought this through", he said. "That would be a case-by-case and country-by-country basis".

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