United States trade officials, along with their counterparts in Canada, Mexico, and Europe, will have another month to negotiate a final agreement regarding President Trump’s call to increase tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
In March, Trump announced his intention to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports along with a 10 percent tariff on aluminum.
The administration said that move was fueled in part as a response to inexpensive metals entering the U.S., which is the largest importer of such materials in the world.
A Commerce Department report published in January of this year, The Effect of Imports of Steel on the National Security, partly concluded that what it called “excessive steel imports” had adversely affected the U.S. steel industry.
“Numerous steel mill closures, a substantial decline in employment, lost domestic sales and market share, and marginal annual net income for U.S.-based steel companies illustrate the decline of the U.S. steel industry,” the report said.
But, at the same time, Trump’s proposal to raise steel and aluminum tariffs has been seen as being potentially harmful to the country’s construction industry.
In a statement issued in March, Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the Associated General Contractors of America, said the tariff increases would put “tens of thousands of high-paying construction jobs at risk, undermine the President’s proposed infrastructure initiative, and potentially dampen demand for new construction for years to come.”
Both German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron have since urged the President to abandon his tariff policies.
In a statement, the European Commission in Brussels criticized the month-long delay in the administration’s tariff decision, charging that that delay “prolongs market uncertainty, which is already affecting business decisions.”
By Garry Boulard
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