Tuesday, 16 October, 2018

Australia 'called in' golf legend to help lobby Trump on steel tariffs

This time, China can fight back against tariffs Fears of a trade war after Trump imposes new steel tariffs
Kenny Thornton | 11 March, 2018, 15:46

Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull thanked US President Donald Trump on Friday for exempting Canberra from tariffs in the steel and aluminum industry.

"Great discussion today on security and trade".

Turnbull said the two leaders discussed the importance of a "fair and reciprocal" trade relationship between Australia and the US.

Questions have been raised over what such a security agreement might entail, especially in light of Mr Trump telling the prime minister in February he would love Australia to join the United States on new freedom of navigation exercises in the South China Sea.

The internal White House dispute over tariffs contributed to the resignation of Mr Trump's chief economic adviser Gary Cohn.

He was reluctant to publicly say what he has said to the U.S. administration about having Australia declared exempt, saying "megaphone diplomacy is rarely effective".

Trump later said he would temporarily exempt Canada and Mexico but tied that deal to NAFTA renegotiations.

Earlier Mr Trump took to Twitter to praise Australia's commitment to a fair and reciprocal trade and military relationship.

The Australian government's urgency rose after the US president announced that he meant to enact the tariffs as a remedy to trade imbalances.

Australia denies security deal was behind U.S. tariff exemptions
Canada, in particular, has a trade deficit with the USA on both steel and aluminum, meaning we're buying more than we're selling. Mr Turnbull said Mr Trump had acknowledged the trade relationship between Australia and the U.S. was a fair and reciprocal one.

Trump this week exempted Canada and Mexico from the duties - 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminum - and said USA allies would have 15 days to negotiate possible exemptions.

"I don't provide a running commentary on all of my advocacy with foreign governments, including the government of the United States", he said.

Australia's major steel exporter BlueScope might get favourable treatment because it has a substantial presence in the United States and sends steel from Port Kembla to its manufacturing plant in California.

"We need to assess it on a case-by-case basis and we'd look at that", he said.

It remains unclear how hard it would be for the European Union to win an exemption.

Trump imposed the tariffs based on a report from the Department of Commerce, which found that the current state of the steel and aluminum market is a threat to US national security.

However, Trump indicated that the Australian could be the third country.

He disagreed with Mr Trump's belief that trade wars are good.

"If we see retaliation and counter-retaliation, this could turn into a very big shock for the world economy".

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