10 July, 2017
The prevailing sentiment was that the investigation's results would give Donald Trump the opportunity to crack down on steel imports, and that is an opportunity he would most likely capitalize on.
It wasn't just European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker who took advantage of today's G20 summit to explain the advantages of free trade agreements to U.S. President Donald Trump - Japanese Prime Minister Shinzō Abe did the same.
Last year, European Union steel producers sold 3.2 million tonnes of steel to the USA, which is the world's largest steel importer.
The report found that other G20 economies inflicted 52 "hits" against USA commercial interests in the first half of 2017, 29% fewer than in the same period a year ago, and a similar decline versus 2015. Germany also has a large steel industry and officials there have been particularly concerned about what a unilateral move to impose restrictions on steel imports to the United States might mean.
"If the Trump administration finds that steel imports are disrupting national security and import tariffs are needed, those could hit many members of the G-20", said Matthew Goodman, a senior adviser at the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.
The White House administration has said it might slap large tariffs on steel shipments from other nations, claiming they are a risk to the national security of the U.S. Thousands of protesters have descended on Hamburg - a city with a long history of protests and riots, where the meeting will be held Friday and Saturday - to demonstrate against everything from globalization and capitalism to the controversial leaders who will be there, most notably Mr. Trump, President Vladimir Putin of Russian Federation and President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey.
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Turkey is frustrated about Germany's refusal to extradite military officers and others who have sought asylum in Germany. Germany has accepted asylum claims from high-ranking Turkish generals in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation .
The U.S. has often criticized China for illegally subsidizing the steel and aluminum industries and contributing to a global glut of the metals.
Several of those exporters-Canada, Turkey, and Germany-are members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and as such the Trump administration may have to show that their strategic partners in the military alliance are somehow threatening USA national security interests. A team from the firm wrote in a note in the month of December "the biggest threat to growth is a possible protectionist turn depressing global trade and even trigger trade wars".
In addition to being intellectually dishonest, asserting that steel imports pose a threat to US national security could be internationally destabilizing.
The European Union has already promised to retaliate if it is hit by USA steel tariffs. The G-20 will "continue to fight protectionism including all unfair trade practices and recognize the rule of legitimate trade defense instruments in this regard".
His counterparts are bracing for fresh surprises after Trump stunned the world by pulling out of the 2015 Paris climate pact, questioned long-standing North Atlantic Treaty Organisation allegiances and dismissed free trade principles.