Trump's newest economic move won't give special treatment to any country -- and they're all set for a trade war

  • President Donald Trump doesn’t intend to exempt any countries from tariffs on steel and aluminium, senior administration officials said on Sunday.
  • “As soon as you exempt one country, you have to exempt another country, and so … it’s a slippery slope,” White House National Trade Council director Peter Navarro told CNN.
  • Trump announced the import taxes on Thursday, citing national security reasons.
  • Key trading partners, including the European Union and Canada, condemned the move. They have threatened to retaliate with taxes on American products like Harley-Davidson motorcycles and Florida orange juice.

President Donald Trump’s planned tariffs on steel and aluminium won’t exclude any of America’s trading partners, top administration officials said on Sunday.

Trump announced Thursday that the US planned to impose a 25% tariff, or import tax, on steel, and a 10% tariff on aluminium.

Peter Navarro, the director of the White House National Trade Council, told CNN on Sunday that the tariffs would be signed this week or next week at the latest.

“The general consensus of the president was tariffs had to imposed, and they should be across the board without country exemptions,” Navarro told CNN’s Jake Tapper.

He added: “As soon as you exempt one country, you have to exempt another country, and so … it’s a slippery slope.”

Additionally, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told ABC’s “This Week” that Trump had spoken to various world leaders and had not discussed any exemptions.

The announcement drew sharp criticism from various trading partners, including the European Union, which has threatened to retaliate with their own taxes on US exports like Harley Davidson motorcycles and orange juice.

Such retaliation could snowball into a full-blown trade war, which may be averted with some countries if the US exempted them from the tariffs.

“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good, and easy to win,” Trump tweeted on Friday.

Trade groups in industries like beer brewing that rely on steel for production also condemned the move, warning that their higher costs would be passed on to consumers.

Navarro said there might be some exemptions for specific cases that would be advantageous to a particular type of business – but no individual countries would be left out.

According to The Wall Street Journal, a White House official declined Friday to say whether the tariffs would apply to just semi-finished steel goods or all products, as has been the case when the US previously imposed sweeping import taxes.

Trump had promised a tougher stance on US trade during his election campaign, to boost the steel industry and protect workers from foreign competition. As with other proposals that Trump has announced but hasn’t followed through with, some critics of the tariffs are hoping he doesn’t end up imposing them.

Watch clips of Ross’ and Navarro’s interviews below:

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