Lowry: Donald Trump's moves misfire as China wages trade war

Trudeau Hamilton 20180313

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau speaks with workers during a visit to Stelco Hamilton Works in Hamilton on Tuesday

When President Trump announced he was going to impose broad tariffs on steel imports into the US, there was great rejoicing among steel investors.

Mr. Trudeau spoke by telephone with Mr. Trump on Monday to thank him for the "special consideration extended to Canada" while stressing that the steel and aluminum industries are critical to jobs on both sides of the border, his office said in a statement.

Trump's tariffs, like his hardline NAFTA demands, have the prospective to turn the internationally integrated auto industry upside down.

America's steel and aluminum industries are not in such dire condition.

A senior government official told The Globe and Mail on Monday that Ottawa is consulting widely with industry executives on the best measures to combat an expected flood of offshore steel and aluminum.

"I think the overall idea (with the tariff) is to have a better position in the U.S.", CSI President and CEO Marcelo Botelho Rodrigues told a gathering of The Press-Enterprise editorial board Friday, March 9.

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The European Union threatened to retaliate against Trump's metals tariffs by targeting Harleys produced in House Speaker Paul Ryan's Wisconsin and bourbon in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's Kentucky. But eventually, increased expenses could make it unprofitable to develop automobiles in the United States and production will move elsewhere.

"We thank the president for taking decisive and meaningful action to address the massive flood of dumped and illegally subsidized steel imports into the United States", Nucor chairman, president and chief executive officer John Ferriola said. That is the case with the uneven tariff situation with other nations, and quite a few of them are our allies.

US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer met with European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström over the weekend to establish whether the bloc would be hit by the measures. Because duh, everyone knows you prove yourself a tough negotiator by making a ridiculously teeny opening ask.

China created the world's second-largest steelmaker after Europe's ArcelorMittal with the 2016 merger of two state-owned producers, Baosteel Group and Wuhan Iron & Steel.

A China-based business source with knowledge of discussion among senior European officials said there had been a "clear effort" by the United States government over the past six months to introduce a coordinated approach to Chinese industrial policy, but that Trump's proposed metals tariffs under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 had undermined support from Europe. "That's why we're impressing upon the American administration the unacceptable nature of these proposals that are going to hurt them every bit as much as they will hurt us", Trudeau remarked pointedly.

Xi has charmed the trousers off Trump, who appears envious of the Chinese government's military parades, press controls and disregard for human rights.

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Vertical Group announced a big downgrade of U.S. Steel stock from hold to sell this morning, reports StreetInsider.com (subscription required).

Housing trade groups also took a dim view of the tariffs, saying the policy would raise costs and slow building at a time when the nation faces a severe shortage in homes and rental housing.

Here is the reality in Canada-U.S. relations over the next three years: it could be Canadian steel and aluminum today and potatoes and blueberries tomorrow.

"Trade wars", President Donald Trump recently declared on Twitter, "are good, and easy to win".

Canada sent troops into the losing Afghan War to persuade the Americans to keep the border open to trade.

The U.S. has been intensifying trade protectionism since previous year. In contrast, Chinese steel comprises just 2% of all American steel imports.

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The United States buys more steel from overseas than any other country - some 26.9 million tons in 2017.

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