On Thursday, President Donald Trump announced his administration plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminium. The United States’ primary trade partners reacted immediately, leading to speculation of a trade war that caused significant drops in global markets.
Canada, the European Union, and Great Britain vowed to introduce tariffs against US imports in response to the new tariffs. Mexico, China and Brazil also announced retaliatory steps being considered.
The Australian trade minister expressed concerns over a pending trade war as well as displeasure over an ally failing to speak to them before making such an announcement. Their remarks were echoed by many US allies.
But in a series of Tweets beginning in the middle of the night, Trump defended his decision.
Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy w… https://t.co/OEgFJVYtCs— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1519906362.0
When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with… https://t.co/lPSkkolNRP— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1519987834.0
We must protect our country and our workers. Our steel industry is in bad shape. IF YOU DON’T HAVE STEEL, YOU DON’T HAVE A COUNTRY!— Donald J. Trump (@Donald J. Trump) 1519995718.0
The president did not address the stock market drops resulting from yesterday's announcement. Fears of a trade war of tit for tat with no end in sight prompted selloffs on Wall Street and in Asian and European markets, primarily impacting steelmakers and manufacturers supplying US markets the hardest.
World stock markets posted steep declines Friday, adding to global losses after President Trump vowed to impose sti… https://t.co/k5EVur32FR— CBS News (@CBS News) 1520000101.0
Republicans joined the many voices criticizing Trump’s announcement Thursday.
“The speaker is hoping the president will consider the unintended consequences of this idea and look at other approaches before moving forward,” Doug Andres, a spokesman for Republican Speaker Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, said in a statement.
“We have concerns, obviously, about actions taken that would create retaliatory action by some of our trading partners and our competitors out there," said South Dakota GOP Senator John Thune, "so I think, you know, we would like to see the White House adopt a, sort of, pro-free-trade position.”
Conservative Senator Ben Sasse of Nebraska accused Trump of “a massive tax increase on American families” and of betraying GOP principles.
“Protectionism is weak, not strong. You'd expect a policy this bad from a leftist administration, not a supposedly Republican one,” he said.
Plenty of critics also took to the president's favorite form of communication, Twitter, to voice their own concerns. Some made connections to Russia as a motive for tariffs or a rebuttal of Trump's commitment to US steel.
If neither side supports steel tariffs, then why is Trump hell-bent on imposin’ them? Our top 4 steel sources are… https://t.co/9jnK7Trkys— Tea Pain (@Tea Pain) 1520000620.0
While Trump implements tariffs to change the subject, let’s not forget that steel manufactured by a Russian oligarc… https://t.co/zPS0dBdVbr— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈) 1519930165.0
Media - please cover Trump’s actions on steel up until yesterday when he needed a shiny coin to change the subject.… https://t.co/74cMK8o2zd— Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈 (@Amy Siskind 🏳️🌈) 1519999866.0
Others focused on the poor economic outcome likely to result from the ill-advised move.
A 25% Trump steel import tariff would cost American businesses and consumers roughly $12-billion a year - taking ba… https://t.co/BkoODJQML2— John Harwood (@John Harwood) 1519948341.0
The @WSJ astutely point out, "Mr. Trump seems not to understand that steel-using industries in the U.S. employ some… https://t.co/2FKdFCdWs4— Stephanie Ruhle (@Stephanie Ruhle) 1519969270.0
Steel tariffs of 2002-2004 were a disaster, cost 200,000+ jobs in user industries- more than TOTAL employment in st… https://t.co/kYbRISv1ye— David Frum (@David Frum) 1519993024.0
Trump cheerleader. Wall Street Journal editorial page. calling the steel tariffs the "biggest blunder" of his presi… https://t.co/2T9Ghfc7hB— Michelangelo Signorile (@Michelangelo Signorile) 1520000527.0
There are many reasons & occasions Republicans & conservatives should already have gotten off the Trump train--or n… https://t.co/xPtQjNvqY5— Bill Kristol (@Bill Kristol) 1519991789.0
Ben Sasse on Trump tariff plan: “If the President goes through with this, it will kill American jobs -- that's what… https://t.co/cxiACa3ITx— Manu Raju (@Manu Raju) 1519999645.0
He’s playing with fire here, and his knowledge of economics is thin. I have no idea what he does with his copy of F… https://t.co/unxOUWpKpL— Richard W. Painter (@Richard W. Painter) 1519960630.0
FUN FACT: Trump’s main reason for imposin’ steel tariffs is because he thinks it will hurt the credibility of the Steele dossier.— Tea Pain (@Tea Pain) 1520000719.0
What makes "a country" exist? A philosophical treatise by Donald Trump: 1. Steel 2. Borders. 3. Law enforcement https://t.co/e5tE9fIqS6— Brian Klaas (@Brian Klaas) 1519996535.0
Trump's preference for Chinese steel over American made steel didn't go unnoticed either.
Donald Trump has built most of his development projects with Chinese steel. Just thought I’d mention that. https://t.co/stmallj0mZ— Joy Reid (@Joy Reid) 1519928874.0
“...[I]n at least two of Trump’s last three construction projects, Trump opted to purchase his steel and aluminum f… https://t.co/uWwW4fPuXb— Mo Elleithee (@Mo Elleithee) 1519998547.0
Comments came from both US and international sources.
Statement from Canada's Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland on Trump's proposed tariffs on steel and alum… https://t.co/YsGqrhvpmb— NBC Politics (@NBC Politics) 1519938783.0
A few Trump critics chose to just give a recap of the president's Friday morning.
We now know @realDonaldTrump hates Alex Baldwin as much as unfair trade. And it’s only 6:30 am. Republicans are let… https://t.co/6nVsD6aYSl— Bryce Tache 🇺🇸 (@Bryce Tache 🇺🇸) 1519990569.0
In the past 48 hrs. Trump has suggested: (1) removing Second Amendment rights without due process; (2) a massive ta… https://t.co/FXEDCVaXIi— Ben Shapiro (@Ben Shapiro) 1519937688.0