Trump's steel tariffs places the UK in a bind

Opinion piece (Daily Mirror)
02 June 2018

Trump has slapped new import taxes on European, Canadian and Mexican aluminium and steel, potentially kick starting a global trade war. 

While the US will likely continue buying British steel, due its specialist nature, the UK is worried that cheap steel from elsewhere, no longer able to compete in the US, will flood its market.

This could potentially lower the cost of steel for some UK buyers, but would be bad for local steel makers and their workers.

More worryingly, Trump’s next target is our car industry. 

The EU looks set to retaliate and increase tariffs on imports of American staples such as bourbon, Levi jeans and Harley Davidsons. The EU hopes this will make Trump back down. If he doesn’t, the resultant trade war could lead to a global economic slowdown which would be bad news for British exporters and the jobs that rely on them. 

The UK is in a bind. The EU is the only economic entity big enough to stand up to Trump, yet a trade deal with the US was one of the great promises of Brexit. While quietly in favour of EU measures, the UK is left hoping Trump forgets it’s still a member.  

Sam Lowe is a research fellow at the Centre for European Reform.