March 21, 2018 Practice Points

How to Respond to a Trade War

Contractual implications of the imposition of trade tariffs.

By David Loh and Chris Raleigh

U.S. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin recently attended the Group of 20 finance ministers meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. On Monday, March 19, 2018, it was widely reported that a number of his counterparts were demanding exemptions from President Trump’s March 8 tariff on the importation of certain steel and aluminum products entering the U.S. Mr. Trump has already said he would exempt Canada and Mexico from tariffs upon a successful renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement. Secretary Mnuchin has indicated that other countries could also get exemptions. Since the U.S. has yet to detail what would qualify a country for an exemption, other than a vague reference to national security and the reduction of trade deficits, it is unclear what will be the overall impact of this tariff on trade, and whether it will trigger retaliatory levies from other nations.

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