Will he 'carve-out' or won't he?
"Fair and flexible" sounds reasonable but it would appear it all hinges on NAFTA. As President Trump said earlier, "we're sticking with 10/25 tariffs," adding that "if a [NAFTA] deal is reached, tariffs could change later."
But, the latest headlines from AP suggest that the Trump tariffs will take effect in 15 days and more importantly Canada and Mexico will be "exempted indefinitely."
Which as we detailed earlier, makes little sense, since while the decision to exempt Mexico and Canada may be strategic, perhaps meant to streamline Nafta negotiations, the reality is that it will thoroughly water down the impact of Trump's tariffs in the first place, because as Harbor Intelligence wrote overnight, if Trump exempts Canada from proposed aluminum tariffs, "it would impair the ability of U.S. smelters to restart capacity and defeat the purpose of the import duties."
As Harbor managing director Jorge Vazquez adds, "excluding the biggest aluminum shipper into the U.S. from the tariffs could also encourage other U.S. allies to ask for exemptions, thereby driving down the cost of delivering metal to the Midwest and making imported metal more affordable for users.
Ultimately, if exemptions are limited to Canada it could mean a windfall of as much as $300 million for Canadian producers given the Midwest premium would still reflect the tariff, Vazquez said adding that "This shows that the entire section 232 is a mistake.”
He is right, after all last month, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said the aim of his duty recommendations to the president was to boost domestic aluminum capacity utilization to 80 percent. If Canada is exempt it would achieve none of that stated goal.
NBC reports that Trump may sign some kind of legal paper that is lower than an executive order. It could be some kind of paper outlining his objectives and some timelines without real specifics.
Watch President Trump live (expected to begin at 330pm ET... but who knows)...