Australian steel and aluminium exports to America appear set to be hit with steep new tariffs after US President Donald Trump confirmed he would sign off on them next week.
China is the president’s main target, but US allies including Australia and Canada appear likely to be punished as well, as Mr Trump moves to protect America’s steel and aluminium producers.
Mr Trump told reporters on Thursday a 25 per cent tariff will be slapped on steel imports and 10 per cent on aluminium.
He met at the White House with the executives of America’s major steel and aluminium producers on Thursday before making the announcement.
The move raises fears of a global trade war.
Mr Trump’s announcement came after Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull held discussions with Mr Trump, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last week.
Mr Turnbull, speaking to reporters on Saturday at the end of his four-day Washington DC trip, confirmed tariffs were part of the Australian delegation’s talks.
“We believe we have made a very compelling case, but obviously the administration has to finalise its decision in this area,” Mr Turnbull said at the time.
Mr Trump said on Thursday China had benefited from the World Trade Organisation while US steel and aluminium businesses have been destroyed by the dumping of cheap products in the US.
“What has been allowed to go on for decades is disgraceful,” Mr Trump said.