China on Friday morning declared that the new tariffs imposed by the the US government on aluminum and steel imports, due to an alleged threat to national security, are a “wanton attack” on the multilateral trade system.
The tariffs, signed Thursday by President Donald Trump, are “protectionism in the name of national security,” said Wang Hejun, director of the Chinese Ministry of Commerce’s Trade Relief and Investigation Bureau.
Trump brushed aside warnings from his own conservative lawmakers and foreign trading partners in imposing the tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium products.
Trump said steel and aluminium are “absolutely vital” to critical infrastructure and the defence-industrial base.
The US president argued that “dumping” of cheap imports is eroding U.S manufacturers’ ability to survive.
“Today I’m defending America’s national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminium,” Trump declared during the White House ceremony.
But Wang said the vast majority of U.S. steel and aluminium imports were civilian products.
“The misuse of the ‘national security exception’ clause by the U. S. is a wanton attack on the multilateral trade system represented by the WTO and will surely have a grave impact on the normal international trade order,” Wang said.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said Thursday that a trade war with the U.S. “is never the right solution,” however, Beijing was prepared to administer “the necessary and justified response.”.
Earlier, during a cabinet meeting, Trump vowed flexibility on the trade barriers, telling reporters that he could change the tariffs “up or down depending on the country.”
“I’ll have a right to drop out countries or add countries,” he said.
“We just want fairness, because we have not been treated fairly by other countries.”
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