White House trade adviser Peter Navarro says no countries will be excluded from upcoming steel and aluminum tariffs set to be imposed by the Trump administration, including the United States’ greatest allies.
“There’s a difference between exemptions and country exclusions,” Navarro, the director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “There will be an exemption procedure for particular cases where we need to have exemptions so that business can move forward, but at this point in time, there will be no country exclusions.”
Navarro said he expects President Donald Trump to sign the measures by the end of this week or early in the next. The economic adviser called the President’s move, which will impose tariffs of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum, a “courageous and tough decision.”
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross also said he expects the tariffs to be put in place this week, but noted that whether they actually move forward ultimately will be up to Trump.
“Whatever his final decision is, is what will happen,” Ross told NBC’s “Meet the Press.” If he says something different, it will be different. I have no reason to think he’s going to change.”
Navarro would not say whether the United States would leave the World Trade Organization if it imposed a steep fine for the tariffs, but said the group “needs to change with the times.”
“We’re not going to take it anymore,” Navarro said. “A lot of the problem has been that the World Trade Organization, which is over 160 countries, and a lot of them simply don’t like us, and so we don’t get good results there.”
“The best-case scenario is the world wakes up to the fact that we’re not going to take it anymore,” he continued, adding, “We want fair and reciprocal trade, and the World Trade Organization needs to adapt accordingly.”
The President has long cited Chinese overproduction of steel as a reason to impose tariffs. However, US allies such as Canada and South Korea account for a larger share of American steel imports than China.
“The bigger picture here is that China has tremendous overcapacity in both aluminum and steel, and so what they do is flood the world market with this product, and this ripples down to our shores and to other countries,” Navarro said when asked about the issue. “And so China is in many ways the root of the problem for both aluminum and steel for all countries of the world.”
The White House invoked national security as one reason why the tariffs are necessary, but disregarded the Pentagon’s recommendation for targeted tariffs.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich said on “State of the Union” that he disagreed with the rapid way the tariffs were announced and will soon be implemented, including the national security rationale.
“But just to turn around one day and say, well, for this national security reason — which the Department of Defense doesn’t even agree to — doesn’t make much sense,” Kasich said. He added: “The way it was handled, it would be like me going home tonight and having dinner with my family and saying, ‘Girls, I sold the house today.’ I mean you just don’t do things like that off the cuff.”