Gold Moves Up, Germany Awaits G20 Steel Talk

10 July 2017, 12:18 | Santos Harmon

Stormy G20 ends with gestures for Trump on climate, trade

In 2017 till May US imports of steel rose by 23% according to the US Census Bureau but it also said the increase was mainly attributable to Russia. Graphic by Sarvesh Kumar Sharma  Mint

William Reinsch, a fellow at the Stimson Centre said if the threat of tariffs are used to pressure members of the G20's forum on steel overcapacity - set up a year ago - to tackle the problem, a good outcome could yet prevail.

But Trump's move to protect the USA steel industry outside the WTO framework could nonetheless irritate other the world leaders gathered at the larger G20 meeting in Germany this week.

The G-20 summit was held this weekend in Europe and many eyes were focused on the meeting between President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Policies that could fall under national security include China's new Cyber Security Act, which is under WTO scrutiny from Japan, South Korea, the United States and others; Ukraine's gas pipeline reforms; and Russia's trade restrictions on Ukraine.

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European Union officials are considering tariffs on agricultural products including orange juice, whiskey, and dairy if Trump follows through with a steel tariff said the FT. Trump said China is committing "the greatest jobs theft in the world history".

But any US restriction on steel imports would have a relatively muted effect on China, and would hit other countries much harder. "Everyone is terrified" that any USA measures on steel "would be a unilateral action and would open up the floodgates for other countries to do the same", he said. They are hoping to galvanize other countries at the G-20 to work together to confront China over its government support for the domestic steel industry, with the idea that joint pressure could be more effective and remove the possibility that the United States has to move alone. In a speech to her Parliament last week she declared, in an unmistakable allusion to Mr. Trump, that "anybody who believes the problems of the world can be solved with isolationism and protectionism is making a big mistake". Juncker said that Europe expects to increase its exports to Japan by a third after trade barriers drop away. Many are looking to Trump's participation at the Group of 20 summit later this week for more specific answers regarding the president's thoughts on steel overcapacity.

The administration has been reviewing the effect of steel imports on the American economy and national security since April with the Department of Commerce due to release a report on the topic as soon as this week. For example, U.S. Steel went up 8% in June. "I think that there are some concerns about the systemic implications about going down that route for the global trading system".

The unprecedented move marks the first time any WTO member has ever cited Article 21 of the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade as a justification for their actions in a WTO meeting.



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