Mar 3, 2018

Trump unfazed by tariffs blowback from allies

Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

This is surprising, and a big deal if it holds: "Trump plans to apply his steel and aluminum tariffs globally and won’t exempt allies such as Canada and Europe, ... an approach that is likely to intensify protests," the Wall Street Journal's Jacob Schlesinger reports.

Why it matters: "Governments around the world blasted Mr. Trump’s plans, and issued threats of retaliation."

  • A White House official told reporters: “The president made clear these would be across-the-board tariffs with no exclusions ... One problem with exclusions is that it’s a slippery slope. Where do you stop?”
  • Red cape for K Street: "Several people familiar with the process suggested that, despite the declarative statements from Mr. Trump and the official conducting the briefing, the contours of the package, including the possibility of exempting certain countries, could still change."

N.Y. Times Quote of the Day, from a front-pager, "G.O.P. Warns Trump on Jobs" (online: "Trump's Steel Tariffs Raise Fears of a Damaging Trade War") ... Peter Petri, economist and trade expert at Brandeis University's International Business School:

  • “Whether we go through with his approach is anyone’s guess, but business investment depends on predictable policy, and relentless chaos takes its toll even if cooler heads prevail on the policies that the president is tweeting about.”

How it's playing:

  • Houston Chronicle front page: "Steel tariffs would puncture Big Oil."
  • L.A. Times: "Trade war could spark food fight, California growers fear."
  • "Possible weapon in a trade war: dumping U.S. debt." (Reuters)
  • Conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt, who voted for Trump: "#Disaster."
  • "EU Threatens Iconic U.S. Brands After Trump Opens Door to Trade War." (Bloomberg)
  • Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip: "Trump’s Pro-Business Agenda Takes a Hit."
  • "Move Rattles GOP Lawmakers." (WSJ)
  • Wall Street Journal editorial: "Protectionism may be his only real policy conviction, and his tweet confirms he doesn’t know what he’s talking about."
  • "In a Pennsylvania Steel Town [Braddock], Tariff Proposal Is a Winner." (WSJ)
  • WashPost A1: "This Ohio steel town needs more than tariffs can give: Trump won Ashtabula with tough trade talk, but residents see the reality."
  • N.Y. Times' Upshot's Neal Irwin: "a signal about the willingness of the president to ignore his most sober-minded advisers and put the global economy at risk to achieve his goal of better terms for American trade."
  • More Neil: "[B]y invoking national security concerns as the rationale for the action, the president was setting a precedent that could give other countries more wiggle room to use security as a reason for imposing tariffs on American goods."
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