WASHINGTON, March 4 (KUNA) -- US President Donald Trump has fielded calls from world leaders on his decision to impose new trade tariffs on steel and aluminum but there is "no reason to believe he is going to change his mind," the US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross has said.
In appearances on several Sunday news shows, Ross tried to ease fears from Congress of a possible international trade war following the president's plan to impose a tariff of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminium. Some US trading partners such as the European Union have threatened retaliatory tariffs on US manufactured goods, but the secretary insisted the proposals would not hurt the US economy and played down the effects of any retaliatory strikes.
Trump has had conversations with a number of world leaders since the announcement, according to Ross. While, Ross said he does not think that Trump will reverse himself under pressure, but he left room for the possibility that the president could change his mind.
"I have no reason to believe he is going to change his mind," Ross said on NBC's Meet the Press adding, "What he has said, he has said. If he says something different, he will do something different"
Ross said imposing tariffs were a key campaign promise of Trump in 2016.
"It wasn't sudden," he said. "The president, ever since the campaign, has said he's going to do something to fix steel and aluminum. Almost a year ago, he commissioned the Commerce Department to do the studies on steel and aluminum. They've been through any number of inter-agency reviews before they were released to the public. So with a whole year of preparation, I don't know why anybody should've been so shocked."
Meanwhile, White House Trade Adviser Peter Navarro indicated no countries will be excluded from the steel and aluminium tariffs, which are set to be imposed as early as the end of the week or early next week.
"There's a difference between exemptions and country exclusions," Navarro, the director of the White House Office of Trade and Manufacturing Policy, said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday.
"There will be an exemption procedure for particular cases where we need to have exemptions so that business can move forward, but at this point in time, there will be no country exclusions."
Navarro would not say whether the US would leave the World Trade Organization if it imposed a steep fine for the tariffs, but said the group "needs to change with the times." (end)