Fearing Trump Administration Tariffs, Australia PM Morrison Defends Aluminium Exports To United States

Fearing Trump Administration Tariffs, Australia PM Morrison Defends Aluminium Exports To United States
President Donald J. Trump participates in a trilateral meeting Friday, Nov. 30, 2018, with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and India Prime Minister Narenda Modi at the G20 Summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead) Source: Wikimedia

Responding to reports that the Trump Administration is weighing tariffs on aluminium imports from Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said yesterday that his country’s aluminium producers have complied fully with the current deal in place between the two governments.

In comments to reporters in the Solomon Islands, Morrison defended his country’s aluminium exporters, saying they have been acting in compliance with the accord between Washington, D.C. and Canberra.

“We have an arrangement with the United States and we are working within that arrangement,” said the P.M.

Bolstering Morrison’s comments was Australia’s trade minister Simon Birmingham in comments later in the day.

“Australia’s aluminum producers trade at market prices in a competitive environment, receiving no government subsidies or similar support,” explained Birmingham in an emailed statement.

On Sunday the New York Times reported upon statements allegedly made by anonymous Beltway sources that the Trump Administration considered levying tariffs on aluminium from Down Under last week but were stymied at the last moment by withering criticism from the military and the State Department.

The Trump Administration reportedly considered the trade barrier in response to advisers’ concerns surrounding elevated levels of aluminium entering the country from Australia over the past several months. Though apparently receptive, the administration ultimately abandoned the idea, at least for now, due to concerns that such a move would alienate one of the U.S.’s most stalwart allies.

Officially the White House declined to offer comment on the situation.

Australia ships around US$347 million in aluminium and steel to the United States each year. The country’s smelters enjoy an exemption from the Administration’s Section 232 blanket tariffs on aluminium and steel thanks to intense lobbying by Morrison’s predecessor last year.

The country has long been an ally of the United States, a relationship that has only strengthened thanks to the country’s willingness to push back against waxing influence in the region by the People’s Republic of China.