Trump takes his wrecking ball to global trading system

The controversial US steel and aluminium tariffs are not so much a national security matter as a threat to the WTO and multilateral deals

With United States President Donald Trump having agreed to exempt Canada and Mexico from the tariffs he announced on US steel and aluminium imports earlier this month, the "national security" rationale for the imposition of these measures has been decisively exposed as being the fig leaf that it always was.

If US national security is not threatened by Canadian and Mexican steel after all, there is no reason to believe it would be threatened by steel from the European Union, Brazil, South Korea or the rest of the world, for that matter.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 14, 2018, with the headline 'Trump takes his wrecking ball to global trading system'. Subscribe