Free Trade

Here We Go Again: Trump Wants New Tariffs on Canadian Aluminum

Just days before the new North American trade deal is set to take effect, the Trump administration reminds everyone that it prefers protectionism to free trade.

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Just days before a new trade deal among the United States, Canada, and Mexico is set to take effect, the administration is reportedly considering reimposing tariffs on Canadian aluminum that it had dropped in order to negotiate the deal.

Whether or not the 10 percent tariffs become reality again, the incident seems to demonstrate—once more—that foreign nations have little to gain by negotiating trade deals with America while Donald Trump remains in office. As long as America's trade policy is being directed by tempestuous protectionists, it will be difficult for any foreign leader to trust that the U.S. is negotiating in good faith.

Restarting an unnecessary and counterproductive trade skirmish with a close ally and key trading partner would also demonstrate that the president has learned nothing from more than two years of failed tariff policies.

"Bringing back these tariffs would be like a bad horror movie," Neil Herrington, a senior vice president at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, told The New York Times. If they are enacted, Canada will likely retaliate with tariffs on American goods, likely souring any goodwill that might have been generated by the upcoming official launch of the United States–Canada–Mexico Agreement (USMCA).

The Trump administration imposed 10 percent tariffs on nearly all aluminum imports (and 25 percent tariffs on most steel imports) in March 2018 for shallow "national security" reasons. A year later, the White House lifted those tariffs on imports from Canada and Mexico after congressional leaders and foreign officials said this would be a necessary first step to reaching the tripartite trade deal that Trump sought to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).

Under the terms of the new deal, the United States retains the right to impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum if there is a surge in imports—and that is the justification White House officials appear to be using for this latest tariff threat. As Politico reports, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told Congress last week that the administration was "looking at" a recent increase in aluminum imports from Canada as "something of genuine concern."

But genuine concern to whom? The Times reports that the push for new tariffs is coming from exactly two domestic companies: Century Aluminum and Magnitude 7 Metals.

Meanwhile, most of the rest of the aluminum manufacturing sector is opposed to the idea. In a letter sent to the White House on Thursday, the heads of 15 companies and trade associations involved in aluminum manufacturing called for Trump to revoke his threat of additional tariffs.

That supposed surge in imports is overblown too. The Aluminum Association, an industry group, said in a statement that imports from Canada are "largely consistent with historical trends in line with historic norms."

Just like in 2018, tariffs on aluminum imports stand to harm far more American businesses and consumers than they would help—97 percent of American aluminum jobs are in downstream industries where higher costs on imported metal will cause unnecessary economic pain. As always, Americans will be hit with the cost of the tariffs, which are taxes paid by importers, not by foreign manufacturers.

"The last thing that U.S. manufacturers need is for the government to tax an important input like aluminum while these companies are dealing with unprecedented challenges resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic," the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users said in a statement. The group noted that U.S. manufacturers have been paying billions of dollars in tariff-related costs for two years, and that they could have used that money to hire workers or make capital investments.

More tariffs on Canadian aluminum make little sense as economic policy. But what about as a political tactic? There, too, it's unclear what Trump stands to gain by undermining the launch of the USMCA, one of his administration's signature accomplishments—or by raising taxes on American businesses during an election year.

And if the Trump administration is going to object every time a new trade deal causes more trade to happen, what incentive do other countries have to negotiate for better terms? The whole episode seems to confirm that Trump values the ability to raise barriers to trade more than he wants to lower them, and it exposes the fundamental flaw in his view of trade as a zero-sum game. When more aluminum is bought and sold across the U.S.-Canada border, both countries become more prosperous.

"Tariffs on Canadian aluminum on the eve of the USMCA commencement make no economic or diplomatic sense," says Dan Ikenson, director of trade studies for the libertarian Cato Institute, "but that makes the move perfectly Trumpian."

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  1. Here is Canada’s tariff schedule on US exports.

    https://hts.usitc.gov/current

    But I know it only counts when the US does it.

    We don’t live in an idealized Economics 101 book. Trump has actually offered the G10 nations pure free trade at one of their summits and he was rejected. Until that day comes, countries will respond in accordance against each other.

    1. “Trump has actually offered the G10 nations pure free trade at one of their summits and he was rejected.” Citation(s) please!

      “Pure free trade” as defined by Trump is pure free horseshit, because it has ten billion “*” “little special exceptions” for “special friends”, business pals of Trump, who think that they need PROTECTION from foreign competition!

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      2. Why aren’t you dead?

    2. Clear-cut case below, showing the UTTER FAILURE of protectionism in general, and Trumpist protectionism specifically:

      Meanwhile in the real world…
      https://reason.com/2019/04/22/trumps-washing-machine-tariffs-cleaned-out-consumers/
      Trump’s Washing Machine Tariffs Cleaned Out Consumers
      A new report finds the tariffs raised $82 million for the U.S. Treasury but ended up increasing costs for consumers by about $1.2 billion.
      PROTECTIONISM DOESN’T WORK!!! DUH!!!
      Protect American washing-machine makers from Chinese competition? The FIRST thing that American washing-machine makers do, is jack UP their prices… AND the prices of dryers to boot, too! To SOAK the hell out of all of us consumers!!!
      From the above-linked Reason article about washing machines…
      “All told, those tariffs raised about $82 million for the U.S. Treasury but ended up increasing costs for consumers by about $1.2 billion during 2018 … (deleted). Although the trade policy did cause some manufacturers to shift production from overseas to the United States in an effort to avoid the new tariffs, the 1,800 jobs created by Trump’s washing machine tariffs cost consumers an estimated $820,000 per job.”
      Summary: Nickels and dimes to the USA treasury; boatloads of pain for consumers. USA jobs created? Yes, at GREAT expense! Putting these 1.8 K workers on a super-generous welfare program would have been WAY better for all the rest of us! Plus, you know the WORKERS don’t make super-huge bucks (no $820,000 per job for THEM); the goodies flow to the EXECUTIVES at the top of the washing-machine companies! The same ones who play golf with The Donald, and join him for gang-banging Stormy Daniels! Essentially at our expense!

    3. Why retaliatory tariffs are a terrible idea and hurt Americans:

      “By the method of retaliatory duties, when the Frenchmen smites us on one cheek, we immediately hit ourselves an extremely hard slap on the other. The Frenchman, by his duties, does us an injury, and we, by retaliating, immediately do ourselves a great deal more; and, indeed, it would not be difficult to show that the country which imposes the [retaliatory] duty does itself a great deal more injury than its antagonist.”

      When someone slaps Jesse, he shows them by slapping himself harder on the other cheek.

      1. Pathetic. You are clearly the Ignoramus between you and Jesse. The guy corrects you, and straightens you out. And this is the thanks you give him?

        You’re a major piece of shit.

    4. +10000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000

      JesseAz

    5. “Tariffs are trade war only when the US does it.”

  2. Boehm imploding!

  3. Tariffs are a particularly offensive policy because they harm exactly the people we should be trying to help. Namely, billionaires like Reason.com’s benefactor Charles Koch.

    Mr. Koch rose from humble beginnings, and — purely through hard work and dedication — became one of the richest people on the planet. But instead of enjoying his twilight years, he’s forced to watch his fortune collapse to a pathetic $50,000,000,000 due to Drumpf’s disastrous economic policies.

    Don’t let this tragic suffering continue. Help billionaires enjoy the lifestyle they deserve. Vote Biden this November.

    #BillionairesKnowBest

    1. How does he make end meet?!!!!!

  4. So USMCA isn’t MAGA? Our deal maker and chief sucks at the job?

    1. We’re way past MAGA. Mission accomplished. We’re in the KAG faze now. Try to keep up.

    2. “Under the terms of the new deal, the United States retains the right to impose tariffs on Canadian aluminum if there is a surge in imports—and that is the justification White House officials appear to be using for this latest tariff threat.”

      Trump is acting under the terms of the deal.
      #AmericaFirst

  5. Look at Justin sitting there like a catamite, legs together, pinching his ass cheeks tight. He knows a hard fucking is coming.

    I wish that we had a prime minister who would fight as hard for the best deals for Canadians, as Trump does for Americans.

  6. Actually, Canada doesn’t export any aluminum, they export aluminium. But the US only imports aluminum, not aluminium.

    So where does the Canadian aluminium actually go? And where does the US aluminum really come from?

    1. https://www.thoughtco.com/aluminum-or-aluminium-3980635#:~:text=D.,-Updated%20July%2016&text=Aluminum%20and%20aluminium%20are%20two,spelling%20and%20pronunciation%20of%20aluminium.

      I am an alumni of the Grammar Nazi School… And you? Are you an alumni or an alumniu? Or is aluminiu the plural of alumni? Could you please alumniate us all about all of this?

      1. And could you please commit suicide?

    2. So where does the Canadian aluminium actually go?

      Canada extract’s the “i”s out of aluminium and exports them directly to China. China includes them as raw materials in certain manufacturing processes. China then exports them to the U.S. in the form of iPhones/iPads/etc.

  7. Trump the Tariff Man, aka the Tax Man, strikes again.

    “It is the highest impertinence and presumption, therefore, in kings and ministers, to pretend to watch over the economy of private people, and to restrain their expence, either by sumptuary laws, or by prohibiting the importation of foreign luxuries. They are themselves always, and without any exception, the greatest spendthrifts in the society. Let them look well after their own expence, and they may safely trust private people with theirs. If their own extravagance does not ruin the state, that of their subjects never will.” ~ Adam Smith

    Even with his massive tariffs fleecing us, a look at Trump’s record setting deficits and debt prove Smith correct.

  8. the Trump administration reminds everyone that it prefers protectionism to free trade.

    Tariffs on imports from specific countries are not “protectionism”.

  9. Look at the big picture: The tariffs Trump imposes are temporary and a negotiating strategy. All of these recent trade deals wouldn’t have come about as fairly as they did without them. I was against them at first too and called them protectionist. I now know what he was doing. He was playing hardball to get deals that are beneficial in the long run.

    1. Sure they are.

      No plan survives first contact with the enemy.

      Somebody said that long time ago. Some Prussian general.

      So is Canada the enemy now?

      Checked the garage. That Dodge Charger r/t was built in Canada. I really like the car.

      1. You like your car? Well shit! Let’s just roll over for any kind one sided arrangement the Canadian government wants.

        1. I could care less what the Canadian government wants. I do not care where the metal comes from.

          That is one car I will not let go. It is not like the mustangs I have had but that car is a beast. They have some like the hellcats and SVTs faster. I do not buy less than 8 cylinders. And it is AWD. Works perfect up here in the northern areas.

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  10. the administration is reportedly considering reimposing tariffs on Canadian aluminum that it had dropped in order to negotiate the deal.

    If the tariffs were only dropped in order to make a deal, then they were never really dropped. They were only “pretend” dropped and now that the suckers have agreed to the deal the real negotiations can begin – just try to get Trump to live up to his end of the bargain. Since Canada agreed to the deal, then they must be happy with the deal and if Canada is happy with the deal, we left too much on the table. Everybody knows that trade is a zero-sum game, if one side wins then the other side necessarily loses. Canada thinks they’re happy because they’ve screwed us over, they’ve got another think coming. Those evil, treacherous bastards, always trying to screw us over, they need to be taught a lesson about screwing with us! We should ream them and ream them hard, they are cheating and conniving sonsabitches acting like we don’t know what they’re up to. We know, they’ve always been untrustworthy, we know how they are, we’ve known for a long time. I say we invade those crooked, no-good, rotten liars and frauds and cheats and swindlers and take all their stuff! Who’s with me? Let’s go get ’em!

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