After the fact, Mr. “Art of the Deal” figured out that his opening tariff bid was on track to blow up the two best foreign markets for American-made steel and significant markets for American-made aluminum. It’s a good bet that the same producers who are lobbying for protection asked the president to back off the neighbors.
The gaffe exposes the Trump administration’s failure to grasp the complexity of the supply chains that interconnect the global economy. A few exemptions won’t clean up the mess he has created with his tariff gambit. The new duties will clobber American fabricators, which rely on these imports to manufacture at competitive prices. Retaliation by injured trading partners will hurt U.S. exporters.