US steel and aluminum tariffs a ‘black day for the world’ — BHP

BHP chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie believes that US President Donald Trump’s plans for steel tariffs will harm the global economy. (Image courtesy of PwC Australia | YouTube.)

US President Donald Trump’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports are a “black day” for the world and businesses, BHP chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie said Tuesday.

Speaking at the AFR Business Summit, the leader of the world’s biggest miner said Trump’s protectionist move was just a way of propping up an uncompetitive industry.

He was referring to the White House’s plan to hike tariffs on imported steel by 25% and by 10% on aluminum, which are expected to be discussed later this week in a meeting organized by the government’s economics adviser Gary Cohn.

BHP chief executive officer Andrew Mackenzie said Trump’s protectionist move was just a way of propping up an uncompetitive industry.

Cohn is calling producers and executives from steel-dependant companies to meet with the President on Thursday to fight the announced increases.

“I am worried that people all around the world might suddenly say that free trade isn’t good for the world,” Mackenzie said during a panel on the economy. “That would be particularly bad for a trading company like BHP […] We have to speak up loudly against these measures as being bad for America and bad for the world,” he said according to Bloomberg.

Australia is hoping Trump will fulfil a promise made on the sidelines of last year’s G20 summit to exempt its steel and aluminum. However, Trump has said he’s not considering any exclusions to the measure.

US Republican leaders, in turn, have expressed their worries about a potential global trade war, arguing it could hit American jobs and undermine the benefits of recent corporate tax cuts.

In a letter to Trump published Tuesday, American aluminum producers told the President they were “deeply concerned” about the effect global tariffs would have on their industry, including jobs.

The group, which represents 114 producers and other companies, including Alcoa, Vulcan and Rio Tinto Alcan, offered alternatives such as a tariff specifically targeted to China’s aluminum industry and an exemption for Canadian, European and other foreign producers.

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