SYDNEY – Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said on Wednesday that the United States will not gain anything with its imposition of tariffs on steel and aluminum, considering it a trade war that curtails opportunities and choices for the citizens.
“There is literally nothing to be gained in the United States (...) imposing a tariff,” Turnbull said during a speech at the Financial Review Business Summit in Sydney.
Turnbull said that the imposition of tariffs will affect the prices of buildings in California, to where the Australian steel company BlueScope exports steel for the manufacturing of roofing products.
“The consequence of imposing a tariff on Australian steel to the West Coast would be simply (...) putting up the price of building in California,” Turnbull said.
The prime minister subsequently referred to the upcoming signing of TPP 11 – the name of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal after the US withdrawal – to defend the benefits of market liberalization on Thursday in the Chilean capital city of Santiago.
“A trade war is a race to the bottom that makes us all poorer, leaves our citizens with less choice and fewer opportunities,” he added.
At the same conference, the Governor of the Reserve Bank of Australia, Philip Lowe, said the decision to impose tariffs on such products is “highly regrettable,” but insisted that nothing should be done in response and open trade should be defended.
“If it is confined to the tariffs on steel and aluminum, it is manageable for the world economy,” Lowe said, but warned that it could turn “very badly” if it escalates.
“If we see retaliation and counter-retaliation, this could turn into a very big shock to the global economy,” he said.
US President Donald Trump last week announced his intention to impose a general tariff of 10 percent on all aluminum imports and another 25 percent on steel imports, although he could still consider some exceptions.