The Latest: Trump defends plan to impose tariffs

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on President Donald Trump and trade (all times local):

7:30 p.m.

Facing criticism from allies overseas and members of his own party, President Donald Trump is signaling he is not backing down from his plan to place tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel.

Trump tweets Sunday night that the American “steel and aluminum industries are dead. Sorry, it’s time for a change!”

Trump is readying to place tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent on steel and aluminum imports, respectively.

The protectionist move fulfills a campaign promise to protect American manufacturers, but is pitting him against free-market Republicans and American trading partners who are warning it would ignite a trade war.

British Prime Minister Theresa May called Trump on Sunday to register her displeasure with the impending action.


11:25 a.m.

British Prime Minister Theresa May has spoken with President Donald Trump and expressed “deep concern” about his threatened trade war with the European Union.

May’s office says she discussed the issue with Trump during a telephone call Sunday.

Trump has threatened to tax European cars if the EU boosts tariffs on American products in response to the president’s plan to increase duties on steel and aluminum.

May’s office says she “raised our deep concern at the president’s forthcoming announcement on steel and aluminum tariffs, noting that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity.”

The leaders also discussed Syria and humanitarian concerns in eastern Ghouta. May’s office says they agreed “the overwhelming responsibility” for suffering falls on the Syrian government and Russia, its main backer.


11 a.m.

An influential Republican senator says President Donald Trump is “making a huge mistake” with his plan to impose steep tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.

South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham is joining a growing number of Republicans and business groups in criticizing the president’s tariff plans. He says Trump is “letting China off the hook.” Graham says “China is winning and we’re losing with this tariff regime.”

Graham tells CBS’ “Face the Nation” that Trump is picking a fight with American allies in Europe in a way that plays into China’s hands. He says Trump should “go after China, not the rest of the world.”


10 a.m.

A senior member of British Prime Minister Theresa May’s Cabinet has chastised President Donald Trump for threatening a trade war with the European Union.

Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington’s comments Sunday on the BBC came after Trump threatened to tax European cars if the EU boosts tariffs on American products in response to the president’s plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Lidington says “the United States is not taking an advisable course in threatening a trade war,” adding that “trade wars don’t do anybody any good.”

Lidington also says Britain’s experience shows that protectionism doesn’t work. He says when the U.K. tried to protect its car industry in the 1960s and ’70s “we lost all our export markets” because other countries were more competitive.


10 a.m.

A business leader wants President Donald Trump to have “the courage” to step back from his campaign rhetoric on trade.

The Business Roundtable’s Josh Bolten, a chief of staff for President George W. Bush, tells “Fox News Sunday” that “every modern president has faced some trade skirmishes during their time but they’ve all been wise enough not to let it descend into outright trade war.”

Bolten praises Trump for following through on campaign promises to cut taxes and federal regulations, but trade is another matter.

He says: “Sometimes a president needs to, you need to stick to your principles but you also need to recognize in cases where stuff you said in the campaign isn’t right and ought to be drawn back. The president needs to have the courage to do that.”


9:50 a.m.

White House trade adviser Peter Navarro says President Donald Trump’s planned steel and aluminum tariffs won’t have any exemptions for certain countries.

Speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union,” Navarro says: “At this point in time there’s no country exclusions.”

American allies including Canada have protested the planned protectionist move by the president, saying they shouldn’t be covered by Trump’s planned 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent on aluminum.

The Pentagon recommended “targeted” tariffs, so as not to upset partners. But Navarro says Trump decided on wide-ranging import charges because he seeks to boost American manufacturers.

“As soon as you exempt one country, then you have to exempt another country,” Navarro says.


9:20 a.m.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says “I believe so” when asked whether President Donald Trump will make a formal announcement this week about trade penalties on imported steel and aluminum.

There’s been speculation Trump may consider exempting some U.S. allies. But Ross says, “As far as I know he’s talking about a fairly broad brush. … I have not heard him describe particular exemptions just yet.”

Ross is dismissing the fallout from potential retaliation by the European Union.

He tells ABC’s “This Week” that “sure there may be some sort of retaliation, but the amounts that they’re taking about are also pretty trivial.” He says the EU has threatened tariffs on $3 billion-plus worth of U.S. goods.

In Ross’ words: ‘Overall it’s not going to be much more than a rounding error.”


8:10 a.m.

Few issues could blur the lines of partisanship in Trump-era Washington.

Trade is one of them.

President Donald Trump’s announcement that he’ll impose stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum has labor unions and liberal Democrats in the unusual position of applauding his approach.

Republicans and an array of business groups are warning of dire economic and political consequences if he goes ahead with the trade penalties.

Trade politics often cut along regional, rather than ideological, lines. That’s because politicians reflect the interests of the hometown industries and workers.

But rarely does a debate open so wide a rift between a president and his party — leaving him almost exclusively with support from his ideological opposites.

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