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  March 10th, 2018 | Written by

Trade Experts Mostly Negative on Trump Tariffs

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  • Employment in the US auto industry will suffer from Trump’s tariffs.
  • If the president is offering eliminating tariffs when NAFTA is renegotiated the incentive to invest is no longer there.
  • Other countries won’t turn the other cheek to Trump’s tariffs.
  • The panic that Trump has generated might galvanize the WTO to set itself on the right course.

The verdicts on the Trump steel and aluminum tariffs from a raft of international trade experts are coming in, and they are almost unanimously negative.

“Donald Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum is the most significant set of US import restrictions in nearly half a century,” concludes Edward Alden , a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, in a blog post. “It will have huge consequences for the global trading order.”

“Employment in the US auto industry will suffer from Trump’s tariffs to a vastly greater degree than it could possibly benefit in the US steel industry,” warns CFR senior fellow Benn Steil in a new data analysis, with the total expected job loss being “equivalent to almost one-third of the entire US steel industry workforce.”

Negotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) continue to hang in the balance as upcoming elections in Mexico and the United States threaten to doom any new agreement, writes CFR senior fellow Shannon K. O’Neil in Bloomberg View.

“If the president is offering the prospects of eliminating the tariffs . . . when NAFTA is renegotiated . . . suddenly the incentive to invest is no longer there,” explains  former US Trade Representative Michael Froman.

“With Trump imposing tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels along with steel and aluminum—and soon, perhaps, on foreign automobiles—other countries won’t turn the other cheek,” writes CFR senior fellow Max Boot in the Washington Post.

President Trump argues that tariffs are necessary to protect US national security, but according to this CFR Backgrounder, many experts argue that the measures could backfire, as “some of Washington’s closest allies would be hardest hit.”

One more optimistic note is struck by Amrita Narlikar, a professor  at the University of Hamburg. The current panic that President Trump has generated over a potential World Trade Organization “collapse and impending trade wars,” she argues in Foreign Affairs, “might galvanize the organization to set itself on the right course.”