US President Donald Trump’s surprise announcement that the US would be levying tariffs on imported steel and aluminium has prompted a wave of criticism and panic in the US and abroad. Trump announced yesterday that imported steel would attract a 25% tariff and aluminium 10%. He also tweeted that “trade wars are good.”

Many US Republican legislators decried the move and warned that it could lead to a trade war, with American consumers paying the price. Canada and the EU said they would enact retaliatory tariffs against US-made goods, while Mexico, China and Brazil said they are considering similar measures.

"New, huge tariffs on all kinds of imported steel is a big mistake that will increase costs on American consumers, cost our country jobs, and invite retaliation from other countries," US Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania told The site reported that other Republicans have warned of possible trade wars.

Trump tweeted that the US was "losing billions of dollars on trade" and would find a trade war "easy” to win. "We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer," said Trump.

The US imports steel from more than 100 countries and brings in four times more steel from abroad than it exports.

For the US boating industry, the tariffs could have a negative effect, especially aluminium used for the production of most US-built boats. “This is a complicated issue,” Thom Dammrich, NMMA president, told IBI. “If it were just the 10% tariff that they announced, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. But if you link it to the anti-dumping case at the Department of Commerce, it could be a disaster.”

The Department of Commerce and International Trade Commission last month initiated anti-dumping investigations against imported aluminium from China. If the government agency determines that there is dumping, new duties could run from 56.54% to 100%, according to Dammrich.

Higher costs would seriously harm aluminium builders who are dependent on aluminium sheeting that is not available in the US. “Our members worry that a tariff could change the whole supply market,” Dammrich told IBI last month. “They’re concerned about raising prices, but also about whether they’ll be able to even get the products.”

The ITC will announce the size of duties in April. “We’re worried about this 10% tariff, which is a Section 232 National Security case, but the bigger concern is the anti-dumping tariffs,” said Dammrich. He added that the new tariffs “might just be the beginning” of other tariffs. “The Commerce Department recommended an additional 23% tariff just on imports from China,” said Dammrich. “The full details of this 232 case are not known yet, as they’re still writing it up. This is not the last word.”