UK to plea for exemption to punishing Trump trade tariffs

Britain will seek exemption from punitive trade tariffs on imports of steel and aluminium into the US, according to International Trade Secretary Liam Fox.
Mr Fox will discuss the tariffs - which are levied at 25pc on steel and 10pc on aluminium - when he arrives in Washington for talks next week.
President Donald Trump imposed the measures to protect the US metals industry. He says many foreign metals companies are able to compete unfairly because they received state subsidies, meaning US businesses cannot match their prices. 
Mr Fox said it would be “absurd” if Britain was affected by the levies. He added: "We will be looking to see how we can maximise the UK's case for exemption under these particular circumstances. We understand the anxieties about steel over-production that the US has but we believe there are other ways to tackle that on a multilateral basis."
UK to plea for exemption to punishing Trump trade tariffs

Donald Trump signs a presidential proclamation placing tariffs on steel and aluminum imports while surrounded by workers from the steel and aluminum industries
The tariffs - due to come into force in a fortnight - have been introduced under an obscure piece of legislation called Section 232, which justifies their introduction on grounds of national security. 
The levies are primarily targeted at Chinese businesses, which produce more than half of the 1.6bn tonnes of steel made annually. However the wide range of the tariffs means other nations whose metals companies do not receive the same support are also affected.
Canada and Mexico have been exempted from the tariffs, and Dr Fox is set to seek a similar deal. President Trump has described Section 232 as “wonderfully flexible” in allowing the US to offer such deals to other countries.       
British steel companies export about 350,000 tonnes of steel to the US a year - about 7pc of the UK’s entire steel production. Being hit with tariffs could destabilise the industry's recovery after a crisis in 2015 that cost thousands of jobs as imports of subsidised Chinese steel flooded into the UK.  
Overview | Free trade versus protectionism
Gareth Stace, director of trade group UK Steel, warned tariffs would have a “profound and detrimental impact" on Britain’s steel companies.
He added: “The UK sector is in the midst of a fragile recovery following years of considerable turmoil, it would be utterly devastating if this were to be undermined. 
“Imposing such measures on US allies in the name of national security is difficult to comprehend. It is clear the underlying motivation is instead one of economic protectionism for US producers, in response to a global issue of overcapacity in the steel sector.”
UK to plea for exemption to punishing Trump trade tariffs

A crisis in 2015 cost thousands of jobs as imports of subsidised Chinese steel flooded into the UK
Steelworkers’ union Community also called for the US to support its Western allies.
Roy Rickhuss, secretary-general of the union, said: “This news is disappointing, but sadly not surprising. Donald Trump’s short-sighted strategy will put jobs at risk on both sides of the Atlantic. Instead of attacking its allies like this, the US should be working in partnership with the UK, the EU and others to jointly tackle the problems of global overcapacity.”
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