Trump Starts an Unnecessary Trade War


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Trump Starts an Unnecessary Trade War

Daniel Larison
The American Conservative

Trump is going ahead with imposing steel and aluminum tariffs in another gratuitous swipe at some of our closest allies:

The US is to impose tariffs on steel and aluminium imports from allies in Europe and North America.

The US said a 25% tax on steel and 10% tax on aluminium from the EU, Mexico and Canada will start at midnight.

The move immediately triggered vows of retaliation from Mexico and the EU, which called the tariffs “protectionism, pure and simple”.


Initiating a trade war with many of our major trading partners will harm many more U.S. manufacturers and other businesses than it could conceivably help, and it promises to sour relations with many of our most important allies at a time when those ties have already been strained by other unnecessary and destructive unilateral decisions. Imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum will raise the costs for every American firm that uses these materials, and the retaliatory tariffs from our trade partners will hurt the sales of our exporters. The relative handful of American workers that might benefit will be outnumbered by those Americans who lose jobs or pay more for goods. The tariff increases are a problem because they threaten to start a cycle of retaliation between the U.S. and its neighbors and allies that benefits none of us. The spurious national security justification for the action is perhaps the most dangerous of all, because it encourages other governments to imitate it with their own bogus claims.

Like many other unilateral administration actions, these tariff increases are a “solution” to a problem that doesn’t exist that threatens to impose real costs on the U.S. and our allies.