31 May 2018

U.S. Trade, Tariffs for Everyone

The United States will proceed with implementing a 25 percent tariff on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports starting midnight this Friday, June 1, 2018.  Originally announced in March, key allies were exempt pending independent trade negotiations, such as North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), but with stagnant progress, the administration made the decision to lift the immunity for Canada, Mexico, and the European Union (EU).  The U.S. has reached agreements with South Korea, Australia, Brazil, and Argentina to voluntarily limit their exports of the metals.

European Commission President, Jean-Clause Juncker, called the move protectionist and promised to proceed with legal action through the World Trade Organization (WTO).  Likely targets of retaliation could include U.S. peanut butter, orange juice, jeans and bourbon.  But this is only the first of several foreign policy changes shippers can expect.

Just weeks after hundreds of U.S. companies gathered to testify in Washington, the White House confirmed it will proceed with Section 301 tariffs on $50 billion worth of goods from China “to protect domestic technology and intellectual property, stop noneconomic transfers of industrially significant technology and intellectual property to China, and enhance access to the Chinese market.”  Investment restrictions and export controls will be announced by June 30, 2018, while the final list of commodities subject to the 25 percent tariff is set to be published by June 15, 2018.  The United States is also pursuing a case against China for violation of the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights.

China’s Ministry of Commerce stated “We are both surprised and unsurprised at the statement, which is obviously contrary to the consensus reached between China and the U.S. in Washington not long ago. The Chinese side has confidence, capability and experience to defend the interests of our country and her people. We urge the U.S. to act in the spirits of the joint statement.”

For more information, visit the White House Notice on Unfair Trade Practice Policies.

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