“We are on the losing side of almost all trade deals. Our friends and enemies have taken advantage of the US for many years. Our Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change!” the president wrote on Twitter.
Earlier in the day, two Trump administration officials said the tariffs — 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum — would likely not include exemptions for allies.
“I know he’s had conversations with a number of the world leaders,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on ABC’s “This Week.” “The decision, obviously, is his. But as of the moment, as far as I know, he’s talking about a fairly broad brush.”
“We shall see. We shall see. I know a lot of ministers from a lot of countries have been talking with the president. They have been talking with me. They have been talking with others. We’ll see. The president makes the decisions,” he said.
Trump ignited fears of a trade war and an outcry from US trading partners when he abruptly announced plans for the tariffs.
British Prime Minister Theresa May said she raised her “deep concern” over the tariffs in a phone call with Trump on Sunday, her office said.
“As soon as you start exempting countries you have to raise the tariffs on everybody else. As soon as you exempt one country, then you have to exempt another country and so it’s a slippery slope,” he said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
National security rationale
Trump invoked national security as the rationale for imposing the tariffs, without making any distinction between friendly suppliers like Canada and potential adversaries like China or Russia.
Canada accounts for 40 percent of US aluminum imports and 16 percent of its steel imports, making it far and away the biggest US supplier.
But Navarro contends that China was “the root of the problem” despite being a relatively small player in the US steel and aluminum market.
“The bigger picture here is that China has tremendous overcapacity in both aluminum and steel. They flood the world market with this product and that ripples down to our shores and to other countries,” he said.
In Beijing, the spokesman for the National People’s Congress warned that “policies informed by misjudgment or wrong perceptions will hurt relations and bring consequences no side wants to see.”