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U.S. thinking about further tariffs on Chinese consumer goods and investments

13 March 2018

Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui said this week that China will host talks on trade issues with USA officials. Beijing's explosive output has depressed global metals prices and forced USA domestic companies to reduce production and cut jobs.

Trump called the "aggressive" foreign trade practices an "assault on our country". Whereas the Permian in the United States is attracting massive amounts of investment.

"We don't have exact details - it's too soon", said Rio Tinto Canada's manager of media relations, Claudine Gagnon. This statement, which came during a press conference, was not accompanied by any documentation or guidance.

He has ordered steep new tariffs on those imports to the U.S. "I expect that Canada and Mexico will take action to prevent transshipment of steel articles through Canada and Mexico to the United States".

Unifor national president Jerry Dias said Trump has made it clear that Canada's steel and aluminium industries are being held hostage to extort a NAFTA deal.

Responding to a question, Trump said the U.S. is negotiating NAFTA with Mexico and Canada, which will be exempted from the steel and aluminum tariff.

"We don't have all the details but we are going to continue to engage with USA officials and show them the benefits of the integrated North American aluminium supply chain", said Gagnon.

Critics say Trump has undercut his own justification for the tariffs by linking them to NAFTA.

"I want to take this opportunity to thank Mayor Christian Provenzano and Member of Parliament Terry Sheehan for recognizing the importance of the need for diplomacy during the past week. You really don't have a national security exemption'".

Likewise, Trump's invitation to countries to plead their case for being exempted from the tariffs might prove a tough sell.

Trump has said the US will be "very fair" but "very flexible" and "protect the American worker".

He said the tariffs would also hurt the USA auto industry and result in higher costs for consumers on both sides of the border. He did not explain how those round numbers managed to survive intact, even after the formula was later upended by the exclusion from tariffs of major suppliers.

Trade partners and close allies warned the tariffs could backfire Friday, promising duties on American goods - from peanut butter to bourbon - in retaliation.

The process of announcing the penalties has been the subject of an intense debate and chaotic exchanges within the White House, pitting hard-liners against free trade advocates such as outgoing economic adviser Gary Cohn aiming to add more flexibility for US trading partners.

By giving countries a potential sanctuary from tariffs, Trump might have temporarily lowered the temperature. "The key risk is that this then pushes the escalate tensions and counter-retaliate outside of World Trade Organization supervision'".

"We think in light of the facts, and the reality that Canada and the USA share an integrated and balanced relationship in steel, exempting Canada is the most reasonable force of action", the mayor said.

"He says a lot of things, but at the end of the day, he's got a short attention span and I don't think this necessarily means these two commodities will be put right in the middle of the negotiations".