G-20 Tensions Simmer Over US Tariff Plan on Steel

Trump talks tough on trade ahead of G-20 meeting

"There was a question mark there, as to whether or not the EU. would be able to continue signing free trade agreements in the future", said André Sapir, an global trade expert and a former economic adviser to the European Union's Director General for Economic and Financial Affairs.

The broad consensus comes after marathon meetings resulted in compromises on deploying defensive measures for balanced trade and a recognition of the U.S.'s split from the other G-20 members on climate change. That is why steel-consuming companies in the United States, and many of his own more prudent advisers, are urging Trump not to act as if the US national interest were equivalent to the narrow interests of the protection-craving steel industry. "We are prepared to take up arms if need be".

The Trump administration argues the US has become too dependent upon foreign steel for its infrastructure and military equipment.

Trump pledged repeatedly during his election campaign to take a tough stance on Chinese trade practices deemed unfair to the United States, but his rhetoric softened after a friendlier-than-expected summit with Xi.

The U.S. has often criticized China for illegally subsidizing the steel and aluminum industries and contributing to a global glut of the metals.

The Group of Seven also clashed on trade during their May summit in Italy.

The Sept. 5 communique urged the OECD to help countries "enhance communication and cooperation", take "effective steps to address the challenges", and "encourage adjustment".

Mr Trump's administration is weighing whether to impose tariffs, quotas or a combination of both on steel imports under national security grounds through Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, even though only a fraction of U.S. steel is used for defence. A self-imposted Department of Commerce deadline came and went this past Friday with no announcement of the steel investigation's conclusion.

The largest exporters of steel to the United States are Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico and Turkey, according to IHS Global Trade Atlas. The German leader pointedly noted that the other 19 of the group's 20 nation's agreed the climate change agreement was "irreversible". Trump wrote in another Wednesday morning Twitter missive.

In the span of just three days last week, the USA conducted a freedom-of-navigation operation in the South China Sea, announced new arms sales to Taiwan and sanctioned a Chinese bank in response to North Korea's nuclear program.

"China's trade with the North grew 37.4 percent during the first three months of the year, compared with the same period in 2016, Chinese trade data released in April showed".

European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmstroem said at the end of June that Brussels would quickly retaliate against the USA if Europe became collateral damage in Trump's war on cheap steel. They would not comment on a report made by the Financial Times that said the European Union could hit USA imports of orange juice and bourbon.

An assertive US president willing to tear up existing deals.

At a gathering of the Group of 20 world economic powers - normally a venue for displays of worldwide comity - there were tough clashes with the US and even talk of a possible trans-Atlantic trade war.

On climate, too, the United States - just a year ago a leading voice in favor of global action to reduce carbon emissions - is on its own path.

G20 leaders will continue their meetings through the weekend, and Monday will likely reveal much about the way trade will shape up. And she predicted that the lower-level officials charged with negotiating a final statement deep into the night "had a lot of work ahead of them".

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