Trade war possible between Australia and US?

Donald Trump’s threat of steel and aluminium tariffs has sparked concern around the world, amongst allies as well as with trade competitors. Australia is showing some concern after earlier being assured of an exemption, with no clarification forthcoming from the US.

It looks like Trump makes things up as he goes, risking making major messes that may be difficult for his officials to clean up.

ABC News: Donald Trump promised Malcolm Turnbull Australia would be exempt from trade tariffs

Donald Trump “emphatically” promised to exempt Australian steel and aluminium from US tariffs during a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull last year, it can be revealed.

The ABC understands the promise was witnessed by high-ranking officials on both sides of the meeting, which was held on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany, in July 2017.

Among those in the US delegation who saw the undertaking first-hand were US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Whitehouse Chief Economics Adviser Gary Cohn.

On the Australian side were Finance Minister Mathias Cormann and the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet David Gruen.

This revelation explains why the Australian Government has been stunned by Mr Trump’s declaration last week that the tariff regime will be enforced, and subsequent statements by Mr Ross that country-specific exemptions are unlikely.

Sources have told the ABC Mr Trump’s promise was emphatic and that he instructed Mr Ross to work out the specifics to “make it happen”.

The Prime Minister and the Australian delegation was “absolutely certain” that a deal had been struck during the Hamburg meeting.

Trusting trump may have been naive.

news.com.au: Turnbull govt considering a ‘trade war’ with the US over steel and aluminium imports

LABOR has pledged support for the Turnbull government if it joins a trade war against United States President Donald Trump.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull discussed trade with Mr Trump in Washington last week but was given no assurances Australia would be affected badly by his trade policy.

In fact, the ABC reports Donald Trump “emphatically” promised to exempt Australian steel and aluminium from US tariffs during a meeting last year.

Australian Trade Minister Steve Ciobo at the weekend telephoned US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross but was unable to get any clarification. That was because at that stage even senior members of the Trump administration hadn’t been given the details of the President’s plans.

Mr Trump’s move move could ignite a trade war, with Europe already threatening to put levies on American goods. This could push up interest rates, rock the stock market, and add to global economic uncertainty.

Mr Trump is being told by many sources, including British Prime Minister Theresa May, who telephoned him at the weekend, that the tariffs would hurt America’s allies such as the United Kingdom, South Korea and Canada.

It appears that Trump doesn’t care about what US allies think of his proposed tariffs.

RNZ:  NZ to seek exemption from Trump’s steel tariffs

New Zealand will not be making any threats of retaliation against Donald Trump’s plan to put tariffs on imports of steel and aluminum, Trade Minister David Parker says.

However, New Zealand would not be adding its voice to the criticism, with Trade Minister David Parker saying New Zealand will not be making any threats of retaliation.

“We wouldn’t be responding by the threat of trade retaliation ourselves, which I see has been the response of some countries,” he said.

“But we would certainly be advocating on behalf of the New Zealand steel industry that these tariffs if introduced [would] not apply to them

“We are of course a traditional partner of the United States, so we would be submitting to them that they shouldn’t be catching New Zealand steel exports in a regime like that if they introduced it.”

It’s hard to see That trump would care about steel trade with New Zealand.

9 Comments

  1. David

     /  March 6, 2018

    The Donald throws some tariffs on and just like that the entire media and left extols the benefits of free trade. Trump is a bloody genius the whole world are now advocates of free trade, who knows Doha and the WTO could become relevant again.

    • Joe Bloggs

       /  March 6, 2018

      Halt!

      • Kitty Catkin

         /  March 6, 2018

        Free trade makes sense to me. People buy what they can’t make more cheaply and sell what they can make more cheaply…isn’t that more or less it ?

  2. duperez

     /  March 6, 2018

    The link I posted yesterday has views on the the psychology of Trump.

    In that context it’s surely no surprise to see “Trump makes things up as he goes, risking making major messes”, he “doesn’t care about what US allies think” and “Mr Trump’s promise (to Australia) was emphatic and that he instructed Mr Ross to work out the specifics to “make it happen” but the words now meaning nothing.

    Trump caring about steel trade with New Zealand should not even make it to being a point of being considered worthy of consideration.

    Trusting Trump may have been naive?

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/outlook/trump-is-so-obsessed-with-winning-that-he-might-make-america-lose/2018/03/01/70a69224-1cd1-11e8-b2d9-08e748f892c0_story.html?utm_term=.9713bfad1f4b

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 6, 2018

      The working class
      Can kiss my arse,
      I’ve got the White House job at last. !

  3. NOEL

     /  March 6, 2018

    This one serms to sum up how those tariffs don’t benefit US workers .
    https://www.forbes.com/sites/jeffreydorfman/2018/03/04/on-steel-tariffs-the-math-just-doesnt-add-up/#9a22cde56150

    Oh I fogot it’s not about protecting jobs but “National Security” Yeah Right.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 6, 2018

      If it’s cheaper to import something than to DIY, it makes sense to import it. Then the extra money is free to do something else with.

      Which of us spends more money making something than we would spend buying it ready-made ? Not me. I like padded coathangers, but don’t buy the bare hangers, material to cover them and padding to pad them as well as taking time to go and buy all these things and more time sewing them., I just buy a pack ready-made. It’s the same principle on a tiny scale.

    • Kitty Catkin

       /  March 6, 2018

      Brilliant article, thank you for that link.

      How is Trump getting away with all this ?

  4. It is important to be aware of all the aspect of this specific decision. In this case, regardless of the many people reluctant of the person this move can actually be positive.https://backtoourselves.org/2018/03/09/change-is-the-only-constant-trade-war-and-the-new-global-economy