Thailand girds itself for Trump trade war

EU will respond to US tariffs within 90 days

President Donald Trump signed an executive order Friday to impose 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports.

"We have noticed that some foreign-funded businesses have complained about China's investment environment", Zhong said. So far, the Trump administration has loosely tied the exemptions to negotiations over the North American Free Trade Agreement and said a failure to renegotiate it could end the special treatment.

Trump said in a tweet on Saturday the United States was ready to drop its tariffs if the European Union lowered its "horrific" rates on US products.

This progress was "unexpected" and a source of cautious optimism on solving the tariff row, an European Union official said on condition of anonymity.

It also said Trump was "cherry-picking" particular tariffs to highlight differences, and maintained average tariffs were very similar on each side of the Atlantic - 3 percent for products into Europe and 2.4 percent for those entering the United States. "If you do that, kiss good-bye any possibility of. well, basically anything", the official added. Canada and Mexico were temporarily exempted pending a NAFTA agreement and rumors over the weekend indicated Australia may be next to escape.

Yet those arguments had little resonance with Trump during the fiery battle over tariffs that has played out in the West Wing in recent days. If other countries want to bring down these tariffs, let them do so, and we can really have free trade. The president made it clear, however, that if a deal is not reached, the tariffs would be imposed, "If we terminate NAFTA because they are unable to make a deal that is fair for our workers, fair for our farmers, and fair for our manufacturers, then we will terminate NAFTA and start all over again".

The U.S. tariff for cars, at 2.5 percent, was lower than the European Union rate of 10 percent, but its rate of up to 25 percent on trucks was higher. Much as Mexico's trade surplus with the USA has been growing, it is not because the country hones Trump-like trade mercantilism ("exports good, imports bad"), takes advantage of the US or generally runs a big trade surplus with the world. "We kept making the case that Canada wasn't the enemy".

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Anand Mahindra, the Chairman of Mahindra Group tweeted on 8 March, Thursday, "Not sure why Indian markets seem so perturbed by the threat of global tariff wars".

Her words echo those of Mexican Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo who said last week Mexico also believed the steel tariffs had nothing to do with the NAFTA talks.

Canadian cabinet members also kept phone lines "humming" with their US counterparts in an all-out push that recalled a lobbying effort in April 2017 to persuade Trump not to withdraw from NAFTA but to pursue re-negotiations instead. India's exports account for a hefty 15% of US' aggregate trade with the world.

Such a move would be particularly harmful for Germany, Europe's largest economy and a cornerstone of its auto industry, since the one of its carmakers' main markets, and cars and vehicle parts are Germany's biggest source of income for goods exports. Australia steel exports to the United States were worth $133.5 million and aluminum exports were worth $129.6 million in the 2016-2017 fiscal year.

While that kind of talk makes agriculture very nervous, Mr. Trump said he is optimistic there will be a NAFTA deal, "I have a feeling we are going to make a deal on NAFTA".

Notwithstanding, Trump remains as steadfast and defiant as ever.

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