Trade tariffs branded bad for jobs

Updated 2018-01-25 11:26:01

U.S. President Donald Trump's move on Tuesday to tax imported solar cells and washing machines has drawn criticism from political, business and academic communities.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi mounted a defense of globalization at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, urging joint action on climate change and economic cooperation, in a speech some delegates took as a swipe at Trump's "America First" agenda.

Modi, making the forum's first speech by an Indian head of state in more than two decades, did not mention Trump by name but he criticized the rise of protectionism in remarks delivered three days before the U.S. president is expected to address the forum.

"Instead of globalization, the power of protectionism is putting its head up," Modi said. "Their wish is not only to save themselves from globalization, but to change the natural flow of globalization."

China will defend its legitimate interests with other members of the World Trade Organization, the Ministry of Commerce said on Tuesday. It expressed its strong dissatisfaction with the U.S. for enacting such a broad measure that it called an abuse of trade remedies.

The Republic of Korea's Trade Minister Kim Hyunchong also said the new U.S. tariffs violated WHO rules.

"The U.S. has opted for measures that put political considerations ahead of international standards," Kim said. "The (ROK) government will actively respond to the spread of protectionist measures to defend national interests."

The move by Trump enables Washington to impose a 20 percent tariff on the first 1.2 million imported large residential washing machines in the first year, and a 50 percent tariff on additional imports. The tariffs fall to 16 percent and 40 percent, respectively, in the third year.

Both Samsung Electronics and LG Electronics expressed concern over U.S. tariffs, saying they would hurt U.S. consumers and jobs.

Some analysts in Seoul said Trump was stepping up pressure on the Asian ally to rely more on him when dealing with the Democratic Republic of Korea, while gaining leverage in renegotiating a bilateral free trade pact he has previously labeled "horrible".

"Security and trade are linked to each other under Trump," said Choi Won-mog, an international trade law expert at ROK's Ewha University.

Opposition from home

Mexican government also said it regrets the U.S. decision not to exclude it from tariffs on imported washing machines and solar panels, and will "use all available legal resources in response to the decision".

The move, approved by U.S. government on Monday, also received opposition from home.

U.S. solar energy industry has decried the Trump decision as killing U.S. jobs. Many U.S. lawmakers have also voiced their opposition.

Senator John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, tweeted on Tuesday that "Trump admin's new protectionist tariffs nothing more than a tax on consumers".

Lloyd Smucker, a Republican from Pennsylvania, said in a tweet that "this solar tariff decision is misguided".

Ben Sasse, a Republican Senator from Nebraska, said Republicans need to understand that tariffs are a tax on consumers.

"Moms and dads shopping on a budget for a new washing machine will pay for this-not big companies," he said in a statement.

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