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Steel and Aluminum Tariffs Could Test President Trump’s Mettle

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Jul. 17 2019, Updated 3:18 p.m. ET

Steel and aluminum tariffs

President Trump imposed tariffs on US steel and aluminum imports in March. The move was intended to boost domestic steel and aluminum producers. However, despite the tariffs, US steel and aluminum stocks like U.S. Steel (X), AK Steel (AKS), Century Aluminum (CENX), and Alcoa (AA) are sagging this year. In this article, we’ll see how the Section 232 tariffs could test President Trump’s mettle.

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Trade relations

While the United States and China seem to have averted a trade war for now, risks of trade frictions with other partners are pretty much alive. The Trump administration has set itself a deadline of May 31 to negotiate long-term tariff exemptions with NAFTA (North American Free Trade Agreement) and the European Union.

While the United States (DIA) has indicated rather overtly that it intends to impose quotas on the exempted countries, some of the trading partners don’t seem to be relenting. For instance, according to Platts, “The European Union will impose a 25% duty on US carbon and alloy flat and long steel product imports, as well as aluminum, from June 20 as a safeguard measure if it does not receive extended exemptions from Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum exports to the US beyond June 1.”

Retaliation

Japan has reportedly threatened to slap tariffs on US products after the country’s steel and aluminum exports were slapped with Section 232 tariffs, while India has also taken the United States to the World Trade Organization over the tariffs.

The Section 232 tariffs could test President Trump’s mettle. Along with managing the aspirations of US steel producers and end users, Trump would also have to negotiate hard with the US’s trading partners.

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