Steel industry is braced for United States import tariffs

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United States President Donald Trump's debut Group of 20 (G-20) summit yielded a concluding statement covered with the USA leader's fingerprints.

Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, the host of the meeting, opened it by acknowledging the differences between the United States and the rest of the countries.

At summits such as the G-20, negotiators hammer out a final statement that is supposed to distill consensus and set policy directions for the many countries and organizations that have come together.

"All things considered, my impression is that we're getting back in small steps in many areas to a greater degree of business as usual", the official said.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson explained that the relationship between the world's two top nuclear powers was too important to let the estrangement between Moscow and Washington linger any longer. "Going into the G-20, [the proposed trade pact is] demonstrating that indeed the European Union and Japan want to continue to have a liberal trade agenda and show that there are other countries able to pursue this agenda without the United States".

What recent events have underscored, though - and especially at the G-20 - is that no nation is today large or powerful enough to impose rules on everyone else.

The meeting will be interpreted by many of Trump's critics as a sign that Russian Federation will pay no real price for an alleged attempt to help defeat Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Steel and specialty alloys are heavily used for armor, vehicles, ships, aircraft and infrastructure. Many Republicans-including many in his administration, according to an Axios report-oppose new tariffs. Doing so would be a provocative move that could affect trade with more than a dozen major countries even while lifting the spirits of his most ardent supporters.

The unprecedented move marks the first time any WTO member has ever cited Article 21 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade as a justification for their actions in a WTO meeting.

European officials here reacted astringently, threatening to retaliate. "We are prepared to take up arms if need be". Those can include import taxes that offset unfair practices such as government subsidies or below-cost pricing.

"The OECD multilateral approach to this was in some ways the face-saving measure that was enacted a year ago in China", Kirkegaard told Bloomberg BNA in a phone interview. "We can not waste this moment of recovery, giving signals of protectionism or of incorrect trade behavior", he said. Mexico and China, two of the United States' largest trading partners, have been mulling their own deal.

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Meanwhile, failure to agree on climate doesn't stop countries from moving ahead in meeting the Paris agreement's goals, or exceed them if they want to.

Among those most on edge are economists, many of whom have been uneasy about Trump's unorthodox views on trade because they have seen the damage from such actions before.

While China is the central focus of the Trump administration's Section 232 investigations of steel and aluminum imports, other nations are interested in the investigations' results. Meanwhile, Trump has slammed China for its efforts to protect domestic industries, a main cause of excess steel production that is flooding the global market with cheap Chinese exports. But that doesn't mean it won't be discussed on the sidelines, with key players the U.S., China, and South Korea all in attendance.

She said the US position was "regrettable" but that the summit had achieved "good results in some areas", and cited a hard-won agreement on trade that included Trump and the United States but did not erase the differences over the issue.

While the steel industry, which Trump promised to revive, could benefit, other industries like construction and housing would probably suffer.

Automakers, which buy a lot of steel, would be hurt by higher prices. "Ultimately the economy will lose". A similar challenge led to a rollback of tariffs imposed by President George W. Bush in 2002.

While the policy recommendations of those probes haven't been announced, some USA businesses are feeling pretty good about what those protectionist policies might do for them.

Now, the EU-Japan pact underscores the economic risks for the United States if it's bypassed in global economic pacts.

By now, most US allies had expected to be settling into the Hillary Clinton era, forging progress based on a shared vision of Western civilization, pursuing familiar multilateral approaches to saving the planet and to globalization. This suggestion met with stiff resistance from President Emmanuel Macron of France. Clashing positions over trade and climate change.

G20 leaders will continue their meetings through the weekend, and Monday will likely reveal much about the way trade will shape up.

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