President Trump on Thursday signed an executive order that imposes new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum. The tariffs will almost certainly raise prices on new cars. But Trump swears—swears!—he’ll be “very flexible” and consider exemptions for countries that are big importers of steel and aluminum. Interesting!
Lobbyists and Trump’s own party have been freaking out over the prospect of Trump’s new tariffs, and, in response, he agreed to exempt Canada and Mexico, reports The New York Times.
The order will go into effect in 15 days. After Canada, the two biggest importers of steel are Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, and Russia, followed by a slew of other countries, meaning that Trump’s orders could spark a far-reaching trade war. That has bad repercussions for the auto industry, as we reported last week.
Here’s more from the Times:
The orders will raise levies on foreign steel by 25 percent and on imported aluminum by 10 percent. Business groups have warned that the impact could be felt across the supply chain as consumers face higher prices for automobiles, appliances and other consumer goods. But Mr. Trump’s aides dismissed such predictions as overwrought and said most Americans will hardly notice any impact.
“We’re going to be very flexible,” Mr. Trump said as he hosted a morning cabinet meeting several hours before an event to sign the order. “At the same time, we have some friends and some enemies where we have been tremendously taken advantage of over the years.”
Trump went on to add that his order would be “tailored to exclude some countries and would give him the authority to raise or lower levies on a country-by-country basis and add or take countries off the list as he deems fit,” reports the Times.
So, in sum, I suppose that means this could either launch a trade war or, if everyone’s nice to Trump, mean nothing at all. Awesome.