No countries will be excluded from tariffs on steel
President Donald Trump's administration appears unbowed by broad domestic and international criticism of his planned import tariffs on steel and aluminum, saying Sunday that the president is not planning on exempting any countries from the stiff duties.
Speaking on CNN's "State of the Union," White House trade adviser Peter Navarro said: "At this point in time there's no country exclusions."
Trump's announcement Thursday that he would impose tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, on imported steel and aluminum, roiled markets, rankled allies and raised prospects for a trade war. While his rhetoric has been focused on China, the duties will also cover significant imports from Canada, Mexico, South Korea, Japan and the European Union.
Addressing criticism of the proposed action, Trump tweeted Sunday that American "Steel and Aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it's time for a change!"
The Pentagon had recommended that Trump only pursue targeted tariffs, so as not to upset American partners abroad. But Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said Sunday that was not the direction the president would take.
"He's talking about a fairly broad brush," Ross said on ABC's "This Week." He rejected threats of retaliation from American allies as "pretty trivial."
Few issues could blur the lines of partisanship in Trump-era Washington. Trade is one of them.
Labor unions and liberal Democrats are in the unusual position of applauding Trump's approach, while Republicans and an array of business groups are warning of dire economic and political consequences if he goes ahead with the tariffs.
Trade politics often cut along regional, rather than ideological, lines, as politicians reflect the interests of the hometown industries and workers. But rarely does a debate open so wide a rift between a president and his party — leaving him almost exclusively with support from his ideological opposites.
"Good, finally," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, an Ohio Democrat and progressive as he cheered Trump's move. Sen. Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, a Democrat who has called for Trump to resign, agreed.
"I urge the administration to follow through and to take aggressive measures to ensure our workers can compete on a level playing field," Casey tweeted.