Mnuchin says deal on steel tariffs with Canada, Mexico is ‘close’


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The Trump administration is close to resolving a solution to the steel and aluminum tariffs it has on its North American partners, a move that would mark a major step toward approval of the new NAFTA.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said during a Senate subcommittee hearing Wednesday that U.S. officials are "close to an understanding with Mexico and Canada,” on the tariffs, which have been in place for nearly a year. “It is a priority of ours.”

The comments mark the most significant sign yet from a Trump administration official that the three sides are nearing some sort of an agreement to remove the duties.

Speculation that a steel deal was close has ramped up over the past few days as some senators have begun to hint that the three sides were making progress. Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland is in Washington to meet with U.S. Trade Continue reading “Mnuchin says deal on steel tariffs with Canada, Mexico is ‘close’”

Democrats threaten to block Trump’s Mexico-Canada trade deal


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Democratic lawmakers on both sides of the Capitol say the Trump administration has failed to satisfy concerns they’ve raised for months about the new trade deal with Canada and Mexico, threatening to sink President Donald Trump’s top legislative priority.

Pressure from the White House for Congress to vote on the deal has been increasing as the time window for a vote closes. But Democrats say there is little appetite among members of their party to move forward until the administration makes changes surrounding enforcement of the replacement deal for NAFTA, among other issues.

“I don’t think they have close to enough votes,” said Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), who has led the charge in the Senate in pressing for stronger labor standards and enforcement. “They’ve got a lot to do still.”

In some respects, the environment for lawmakers to consider passing the deal is far friendlier than it was earlier Continue reading “Democrats threaten to block Trump’s Mexico-Canada trade deal”

State Department warns Americans traveling in China to use ‘increased caution’


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The State Department is urging Americans traveling to China to "exercise increased caution," a warning that comes amid heightened political tensions between the two countries.

In a travel advisory issued today, the agency warned American travelers to "exercise increased caution in China due to arbitrary enforcement of local laws as well as special restrictions on dual U.S.-Chinese nationals."

It specifically listed concern with the Chinese government’s coercive use of "exit bans," which Beijing has previously used to keep U.S. citizens in China for extended periods and, sometimes, for years.

The warning comes a month after a prominent Chinese national, Meng Wanzhou, was detained in Canada for extradition at the request of U.S. officials. Following the arrest of Wanzhou, a top executive at Huawei Technologies, two Canadians were arrested and detained in China. Canada has forcefully denounced the move, which Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland called "arbitrary Continue reading “State Department warns Americans traveling in China to use ‘increased caution’”

‘Ideological soulmates’: How a China skeptic sold Trump on a trade war


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<![CDATA[
Robert Lighthizer thought it was time for a history lesson.

It was mid-2017, and President Donald Trump — who had campaigned on a vow to bully China into changing its trade practices — had so far taken little concrete action against the Asian power since taking office earlier that year.

So Lighthizer, the United States trade representative and a decades-long skeptic of Beijing, commandeered one of the White House’s weekly trade policy meetings, delivering a meticulous presentation to his colleagues about the decades-long failure of U.S. policy toward Beijing.

Surrounded by Cabinet secretaries and senior advisers to the president, Lighthizer stood at the end of a long table in the Roosevelt Room and ticked through the economic dialogues with the Chinese that past presidents hoped would fundamentally change the trade dynamic between the two economic superpowers — but ultimately, in his view, yielded little progress.

Then, a few weeks

Continue reading “‘Ideological soulmates’: How a China skeptic sold Trump on a trade war”

Farmers are losing money thanks to Trump — but they still support him


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WATERLOO, Ill. — Sitting atop his combine harvester on a clear fall day, Garrett Hawkins can add up just how much President Donald Trump’s tariffs are hitting his bottom line, from the lower price he’ll get for his soybean crop to the steeper prices he’ll pay for metal grain bins and other equipment.

But like many of his fellow farmers in southern Illinois’ sprawling 12th Congressional District, Hawkins, 37, is still planning to vote Republican on Election Day.

Democrats pinpointed the district this year as one of their most likely opportunities to pick up a House seat, betting, in part, that farmers would abandon the GOP as Trump’s global trade war hits the Midwest. The district went for Obama in 2012, though Trump carried it by 15 points in 2016. But the race is turning into a showcase for how that economic argument alone may not be enough to prevail

Continue reading “Farmers are losing money thanks to Trump — but they still support him”

Juncker and Trump’s transatlantic trade truce falters


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Europe’s fragile peace deal with the U.S. on trade is at a breaking point.

Washington is again threatening high tariffs on Europe’s all-important car industry just as U.S. President Donald Trump is seeking to whip up support before midterm elections on Nov. 6.

In an unusually outspoken attack, two top U.S. officials on Wednesday made clear that Trump was growing frustrated with Europe’s foot-dragging over a promised trade deal and was gearing up to roll out car tariffs put on ice in July.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, who was in Brussels on Tuesday and Wednesday, was visibly annoyed by the lack of progress in talks and lashed out at the explanation given by European Union trade chief Cecilia Malmström.

The latest back-and-forth comes just a day after the Trump administration formally notified Congress that it was planning to begin trade negotiations with the EU.

But Continue reading “Juncker and Trump’s transatlantic trade truce falters”

How a Democratic Congress could derail Trump’s NAFTA dreams


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If Democrats are successful in November in taking at least a slim majority in the House of Representatives, as most current polls predict, the new NAFTA agreement reached on Sunday night will face an uphill battle to becoming law.

A completed three-way deal won’t necessarily be dead on arrival in a Democratic-controlled Congress — but it won’t be a foregone conclusion that lawmakers would pass the agreement, either.

Because of several procedural steps that must be followed, a floor vote is not expected until the next Congress is sworn in. That sets the stage for a nail-biting 2019, with the prospect of a protracted showdown between the White House and Capitol Hill.

"It’ll be too much fun for them to just kill it off on Day One," said Bill Reinsch, who worked for two decades as a Senate aide.

A flat-out rejection by either chamber would rob President Donald Trump Continue reading “How a Democratic Congress could derail Trump’s NAFTA dreams”

Trump threatens China with tariffs on $267 billion in goods


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President Donald Trump on Friday threatened to hit Beijing with tariffs on $267 billion in goods, a move that would expand the growing trade war to cover virtually everything the United States currently imports from China.

Speaking to reporters on Air Force One, Trump said his administration has the latest round of tariffs ready and that he’s prepared to impose them "on short notice.”

Those penalties, if imposed, would come on top of tariffs the administration has already implemented on roughly $53 billion in Chinese imports and on $200 billion that are expected in the coming days.

“The $200 billion we’re talking about could take place very soon, depending on what happens with them,” Trump said, indicating he might be open to some sort of a negotiated solution if Beijing were willing to make concessions. “To a certain extent, it’s going to be up to China.”

Then he Continue reading “Trump threatens China with tariffs on $267 billion in goods”

Trump expected to put Congress on NAFTA alert Friday


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The Trump administration is gearing up to notify Congress on Friday that it plans to sign an updated NAFTA agreement later this year — either with or without Canada.

U.S. trade officials resumed talks with Canada on Friday morning. The Trump administration has yet to get Ottawa on board after nailing down a preliminary two-way pact with Mexico, but sources close to the negotiations said U.S. negotiators are working to try to send Congress formal notification of an agreement that includes both Mexico and Canada. The notification will likely be sent in the form of a letter to lawmakers from U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, who said earlier this week that notification would be made on Friday.

Officials are under pressure to send the notification on Friday at the latest because it would allow them to sign a deal on Nov. 29, a day before Mexican President Continue reading “Trump expected to put Congress on NAFTA alert Friday”

Trump tariffs on Canadian newsprint to be reversed


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An independent trade panel on Wednesday derailed the Trump administration’s push to impose tariffs on imports of newsprint from Canada, handing a significant win to U.S. newspapers, union groups and scores of lawmakers who pressed for the change.

The 5-0 decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission marks a significant win for newspapers that were reeling from increased costs of up to 30 percent for a core product. It also removes a prominent thorn in the bilateral relationship between the United States and its northern neighbor and comes as the two countries are working to resolve differences in NAFTA talks by the end of this week.

“Today is a great day for American journalism,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, in a statement. “The ITC’s decision will help to preserve the vitality of local newspapers and prevent additional job losses in the printing Continue reading “Trump tariffs on Canadian newsprint to be reversed”

Trump tariffs on Canadian newsprint to be reversed


This post is by Megan Cassella from Politics, Policy, Political News Top Stories


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An independent trade panel on Wednesday derailed the Trump administration’s push to impose tariffs on imports of newsprint from Canada, handing a significant win to U.S. newspapers, union groups and scores of lawmakers who pressed for the change.

The 5-0 decision by the U.S. International Trade Commission marks a significant win for newspapers that were reeling from increased costs of up to 30 percent for a core product. It also removes a prominent thorn in the bilateral relationship between the United States and its northern neighbor and comes as the two countries are working to resolve differences in NAFTA talks by the end of this week.

“Today is a great day for American journalism,” said David Chavern, president and CEO of the News Media Alliance, in a statement. “The ITC’s decision will help to preserve the vitality of local newspapers and prevent additional job losses in the printing Continue reading “Trump tariffs on Canadian newsprint to be reversed”

Mexico, U.S. may be heading toward NAFTA deal amid Trump’s global trade war


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President Donald Trump could be poised to make a deal with Mexico on NAFTA even as he engages in a trade war with the rest of the world.

Mexican Economy Secretary Ildefonso Guajardo arrived in Washington on Wednesday — as he has every week for the past month — to hammer out some of the most contentious issues on NAFTA. U.S. and Mexican officials now say they could be on the verge of announcing a preliminary agreement on everything from complicated automotive rules to environmental regulations by the end of August.

The apparent turnaround after months of stalemate is a surprise outcome of discussions reaching their year anniversary on Thursday. And while the two sides have yet to bring Canada, the third partner in NAFTA, into the latest round, the negotiators’ optimistic tone could signal that Trump may be ready to extinguish at least one trade conflagration before the Continue reading “Mexico, U.S. may be heading toward NAFTA deal amid Trump’s global trade war”

No aid planned for other sectors hurt by trade war


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President Donald Trump’s top trade official took heat from Republican and Democratic lawmakers after he said the administration is not currently considering providing federal aid to small businesses, manufacturers or any sector of the economy, aside from farmers, that might be hurt by the trade war.

At a hearing on Thursday, Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) asked whether U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was currently considering providing other businesses assistance similar to the $12 billion aid package to the agriculture sector.

"Not at this time, no," Lighthizer replied.

Many lawmakers, including those in politically crucial Midwestern states, have criticized the unpredictable nature of the administration’s approach to trade and remedies being provided to those hurt by retaliation. Trump is traveling to Iowa and southern Illinois on Thursday in an effort to shore up his base there.

In Washington, Lighthizer was grilled over the specifics of which groups could Continue reading “No aid planned for other sectors hurt by trade war”

Trump says no new tariffs against EU after parties agree to trade negotiations


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President Donald Trump announced Wednesday that the United States will pause its plans to impose new tariffs against the European Union and work to resolve existing differences over trade in an attempt to avoid a full-blown trade war.

The "new phase" in the trade relationship between Washington and Brussels comes after Trump met with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, who traveled to the White House with his team to attempt to head off potential tariffs on U.S. imports of autos and auto parts.

In a joint statement in the Rose Garden, Trump and Juncker also announced that the two trading partners will work to eliminate tariffs on all non-auto industrial goods, increase cooperation on energy purchases and work together to reform the World Trade Organization.

"This will open markets for farmers and workers, increase investment, and lead to greater prosperity in both the United States and the European Union," Continue reading “Trump says no new tariffs against EU after parties agree to trade negotiations”

Trump’s new midterm threat: A trade war smacking voters


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President Donald Trump’s trade wars could become a major political drag for Republicans, with job losses and price increases piling up just as voters head to the polls in November.

Trump jolted markets once again early Friday when he said he’s prepared to impose penalties on some $500 billion in Chinese goods regardless of the consequences that might ensue, economic or political. “Look, I’m not doing this for politics,” the president said on CNBC. “I’m doing this to do the right thing for our country.”

But market analysts, industry experts and economists warn that the economic fallout of the president’s tariffs — those that are already in effect and those he’s threatening to impose — is only going to intensify over the coming months and could reach a peak around election time.

“We’re already hearing complaints now from companies, so by the time we get to the midterms, you’re Continue reading “Trump’s new midterm threat: A trade war smacking voters”

‘This would widen the trade war tenfold’: U.S. automakers say no to Trump’s car tariffs


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President Donald Trump says he wants to save the U.S. auto industry by slapping tariffs as high as 25 percent on foreign-made cars, but there’s a problem: Automakers don’t want his help.

The White House thinks the penalties would encourage domestic investment and automotive production and support U.S. workers — and Trump is pressing his staff to speed up the move so he can claim credit for it before the midterm elections.

But America’s carmakers, including Ford, General Motors and Fiat Chrysler, are wary as they watch what’s happening to other companies caught in Trump’s trade war, such as Harley-Davidson. The motorcycle-maker suddenly found the European Union imposing tariffs on its U.S.-manufactured products after Trump instituted penalties on steel and aluminum from Europe. And Trump began attacking the company on Twitter this week after it announced it would move some jobs abroad to avoid the fallout.

Continue reading “‘This would widen the trade war tenfold’: U.S. automakers say no to Trump’s car tariffs”

Trump blasts Harley-Davidson’s decision to shift production overseas


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President Donald Trump sharply criticized American motorbike manufacturer Harley-Davidson’s decision today to shift some of its production overseas, a move the company said it is making in order to avoid the president’s tariffs.

"Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag," Trump wrote on Twitter.

The post came after the company earlier today said it will be shifting production to its international facilities of motorcycles that are headed to Europe in order to avoid paying a 25 percent tariff on its way into the European market. Brussels levied that penalty in response to Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.

Harley-Davidson said the duties mean an increased cost of $2,200 on each motorcycle heading into Europe, which is the company’s largest market.

Trump noted in his post that he "fought hard for" Harley-Davidson and that "ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into Continue reading “Trump blasts Harley-Davidson’s decision to shift production overseas”

Lawmakers step in to restore U.S. ties to Canada after Trump-Trudeau spat


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Senators are stepping in to shore up relations with the United States’ closest ally after President Donald Trump and his administration launched a war of words — and tariffs — against Canada.

Just days after White House trade adviser Peter Navarro asserted that there is “a special place in hell” for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, the top Canadian diplomat visited Capitol Hill on Wednesday to meet behind closed doors with the Senate Foreign Relations Committee at the request of Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the panel’s chairman.

The White House decision to impose steep duties on imports of steel and aluminum from Canada was the primary focus of the meeting with Canadian Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, which was planned before the events of the last week. The Trump administration justified those tariffs by saying the imports pose a national security threat to the United States — an explanation that Continue reading “Lawmakers step in to restore U.S. ties to Canada after Trump-Trudeau spat”

Navarro: Harsh comments against Trudeau were a ‘mistake’


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White House trade adviser Peter Navarro on Tuesday walked back his comments over the weekend saying that there was a "special place in hell" for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, acknowledging that his language was "inappropriate."

"Let me correct a mistake I made," Navarro said at a conference in Washington hosted by The Wall Street Journal’s CFO Network.

“My mission was to send a strong signal of strength,” he said. “The problem is that in conveying that message I used language that was inappropriate.”

Navarro exacerbated bilateral tensions between the U.S. and Canada on Sunday when he criticized Trudeau for double-crossing President Donald Trump. Navarro’s comments came after Trudeau said Canada would stand firmly against tariffs that Trump plans to impose on Canadian steel and aluminum.

"There’s a special place in hell for any foreign leader that engages in bad-faith diplomacy with President Donald J. Trump and Continue reading “Navarro: Harsh comments against Trudeau were a ‘mistake’”

Trump officials kick into damage-control mode with Canada


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A day after President Donald Trump and his top advisers went on the attack against Canada, members of his Cabinet are taking steps to preserve and strengthen ties with the U.S.’ nearest ally.

In one step of the change in tone, the Department of Agriculture announced Monday that Secretary Sonny Perdue would head to Canada later this week to meet with his counterpart Lawrence MacAulay.

The trip and photo-op is intended to showcase ongoing cooperation between the two countries on agriculture — and it will fall amid repeated criticism from Trump himself about Canada’s high tariffs on U.S. dairy products in particular that enter the Canadian market.

In addition, White House trade adviser Peter Navarro further antagonized relations when he remarked on Sunday that “there’s a special place in hell” for Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who he said engaged in “bad-faith diplomacy” with Trump.

Larry Kudlow, Continue reading “Trump officials kick into damage-control mode with Canada”