Trump's Tariffs Explained

What are they, how has the world reacted and what are the implications for Britain and global trade?

  • Trump has announced big taxes on US imports of metals from the EU, Canada and Mexico

  • Yet China was the main target during his fiery US presidential campaign

  • Move draws criticism from the US's trading partners and allies

  • Here we explain what has happened and set out the reactions and implications

  • China is at the heart of Trump's strategy on global trade operations

Donald Trump's administration last night imposed new trade tariffs on steel and aluminium imports into the US from the EU, Canada and Mexico.

Yet China is the country really at the heart of Trump's decision-making strategy on trade.

During his presidential campaign, Trump accused China of flooding the global market with cheap metals, triggering job losses in the US and an 'unfair' market.

Early on, Trump vowed to impose taxes and tariffs on imports to the US from China in a bid to create a more level playing field, or, at least, one that favoured the US.

But instead it is the US's closest allies like the UK and the EU, and nearest trading partners Canada and Mexico, that are now bearing the brunt of Trump's determination to follow through on his campaign promises.

Together they exported around £17billion worth of steel and aluminium to the US in 2017, equating to nearly half of the total steel and aluminium imports.

Now, these imports will be slapped with a 25 per cent and 10 per cent tax respectively.

The tariffs will hit a wide range of products, including plated steel, slabs, coil and rolls of aluminium, all of which are used extensively within the US manufacturing, oil and construction sectors.

The new tariffs took effect at midnight on Thursday 31 May. Here we explain China's role in all this, why Trump has done it, and what a trade war will really mean.

What is China's role in all this?

China was the country that was in Trump's sights during his presidential campaign.

Yet looking at recent figures compiled by the Peterson Institute for International Economics, China made $2.9billion worth of steel and aluminium imports to the US last year.