US Commerce Secretary defends tariffs, laments 'hysteria'

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross holds up a Campbell's Soup in regards to aluminum tariffs trade policy

Mr Trump has spoken to world leaders about the planned tariff hikes but has given no indication he would allow exemptions, commerce secretary Wilbur Ross said on Sunday. "But as of the moment, as far as I know, he's talking about a fairly broad brush".

Numerous world leaders and ministers have been in touch with Mr Trump and United States officials including Mr Ross, suggesting an intensive behind-the-scenes effort to change the president's mind, the commerce secretary said.

Numerous ministers from around the world have been in touch with Trump and administration officials including Ross, hinting at an intensive behind-the-scenes effort to change the US president's mind, the commerce secretary said.

Ross likewise downplayed the risk of retaliation, saying any trading partners who made a decision to cut USA imports in other areas would both raise their own costs and create openings for U.S. exporters.

Earlier in the day, Ross, who is reportedly worth somewhere between $700 million and several billion dollars, had tried to convince consumers the tariffs which he reportedly pushed Trump into, will have little impact on those buying a $35,000 vehicle. I know that a lot of ministers from a lot of countries have been talking with the president.

"This is a can of Campbell's soup", Ross said as he held up a can of Campbell's soup to the camera.

The commerce secretary dismissed European Union threats of retaliatory tariffs on flagship American products, including Harley Davidson motorcycles, bourbon and Levi's jeans, calling the $3 billion in affected goods a "pretty trivial" amount.

American jobs are being hurt by the nation's growing trade deficit, Ross said, and we have to do something about that.

With global stock markets tumbling and allies indignant, Trump greeted the negative reaction by vowing on Friday to enact even more sweeping "reciprocal taxes" on all imports from trading partners who place duties on American exports.

Canada, which has the most to lose as the top source of U.S. steel and aluminium imports, has called the tariffs "unacceptable".

Among its supporters are trade hawks like White House adviser Peter Navarro and some Rust Belt Democrats, including Sens.

"In our size economy that is a tiny, tiny fraction of 1%", Secretary Ross said.

Ross said the reaction was unjustified and driven by narrow interests resistant long overdue change. "But at this point in time there will be no country exclusions", Navarro said, without elaborating. "As soon as you exempt one country, then you have to exempt another country and so it's a slippery slope", he said on CNN's "State of the Union".

Ross argued on ABC that while any retaliation might affect an individual producer for "a little while", it won't amount to more than a "rounding error" for the economy. The flood of Chinese steel has been blamed for the loss of US 50,000 jobs since 2000, a year before China joined the World Trade Organization.



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