After hosting what the White House initially called a “listening” session, President Donald Trump took American investors by surprise Thursday. Trump announced to the group attending the meeting that he will be imposing the long-rumored steel and aluminum tariffs next week. The president will impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent for aluminum. Trump told a meeting of steel and aluminum executives that he’ll sign the paperwork next week. “You’re going to have protection for the first time in a long time,” he said to the executives. He says steel and aluminum workers haven’t been represented in some time and moves like this will help rebuild the American industries.
Before making the announcement, Trump praised his recent tariffs on solar panels and washing machines, saying they were a good example of how tariffs can lead to investment in different U.S. business sectors. Metal company stocks rose sharply after the midday announcement. At the same time, the announcement pushed the Canadian dollar sharply lower. While it did bounce back somewhat, the tariffs remind people on both sides of the border about lingering tensions as the countries continue to participate in NAFTA negotiations.
U.S. Wheat Associates and the National Association of Wheat Growers were both very disappointed in the Trump Administration’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports. A statement says they have repeatedly warned of the risks of retaliation and the precedent set by such a policy would have potentially serious consequences for agriculture. The groups say it’s disappointing that the voices of farmers and many other industries were ignored in favor of an industry that’s already among the most well-protected in the country.
Brian Kuehl of the Farmers for Free Trade Organization says they are also deeply concerned that the move to impose tariffs will unintentionally hurt American agriculture. “These tariffs are very likely to accelerate a tit-for-tat approach on trade, putting U.S. agricultural exports in the crosshairs,” Kuehl says. “We’ve already seen China discussing tariffs on sorghum, while the EU and China have both indicated they will move forward with swift retaliation in the wake of these tariffs.” He adds that everyone agrees on the need to hold trading partners accountable but taking unilateral action like this will have unintended consequences. “The ag sector knows from experience that our ag exports are the first to be hit by retaliation,” he adds.