Understanding the Trump Trade Doctrine

UPDATE 1-Canada's Trudeau tells metal workers 'we have your backs'

UPDATE 1-Canada's Trudeau tells metal workers 'we have your backs'

The tariffs are 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum. Their outdated plants and equipment prevent them from using newer, more cost-efficient production methods and adapting to world competition.

The big US auto manufacturers, for instance, heavily depend upon Canadian steel for various parts of their finished vehicles. The construction industry would take the biggest hit. Late previous year, Washington approved big tax cuts for businesses, and investors sent stocks surging.

What's the harm to the U.S.?

The merged company, Baowu Steel, wants to increase production capacity by two-thirds to 100 million tons by acquiring smaller mills, the company's general manager told the official China News Service in September.

Villagers stripped hillsides for fuel and burned doors and furniture to melt pots and pans and whatever other metal they could find to produce useless pig iron. They're nearly certainly the reason that shares of U.S. Steel (NYSE: X) are up 15% over the last 30 days, why AK Steel stock has gained 10%, and probably explain why Alcoa has notched a 6% jump as well - but not everyone is impressed. But foreign competitors say the impact of low-priced Chinese exports on their industry has been even more devastating. Or, one may not wonder, simply accepting that Trump is Trump; there is little point is attempting to understand the inner workings of his mind. This is the exact opposite of the increased global manufacturing prowess that Trump has promised.

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Moreover, both Alcoa (aluminum) and Stelco (steel) are major players in these two industrial sectors - and they are owned by USA commercial interests.

In early 2002, then-President George W. Bush imposed steel tariffs of up to 30 percent on imports of steel in an effort to shore up domestic producers against low-priced imports.

Washington is targeting Chinese high technology companies to punish them for forcing United States companies to give up their technology secrets in exchange for being allowed to operate in the country.

The reason is technology.

At the same time, China is merging its biggest steelmakers into even bigger, more efficient competitors. Tariffs won't change that equation.

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The head of the National Retail Federation, whose members include department store chains, grocery stores and other merchants around the world, also raised objections to the tariffs Thursday, calling them a tax on all Americans.

In Pennsylvania, President Trump preened before an approving crowd as he trumpeted his decision to slap tariffs on aluminum and steel imports.

The steel industry swollen over the past decade to support a history-making Chinese construction boom. Instead of imposing costs on American businesses and consumers and putting those whose livelihoods depend on imports out of s job, President Trump should address the real causes of our economic problems: the welfare-warfare state, the IRS, and the Federal Reserve.

Because of imports, domestic metal producers have to run plants at just 74 percent of capacity, according to the St. Louis Fed. The ongoing Section 301 investigation on China's transfer of USA technology and intellectual property could be concluded as early as April. The 2002/03 steel tariffs under the Bush administration, for example, raised import prices by more than 3 per cent at the time. Government assistance violates the rules of the market, raising economic and justice concerns. Selling more steel and aluminum overseas is a much better bet than trying to capture a bigger slice of a stagnating pie back home.

And whether Trump ultimately implements his proposed tariffs or eventually backs down, as many suggest he will, those long-standing and essential trading partners will have learned one thing: The United States is now an unreliable, unpredictable and unreasonable trading partner.

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That's a long shot - Trump has railed against the USA trade deficit since entering the race for the presidency in 2015 - but we hope he will, as do many Oklahomans who will be impacted.

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