Turkey has welcomed the Trump administration’s decision to halve tariffs on steel imports but urged the United States to stick to the bilateral trade volume target of $75 billion.
“We are in favor of a fair, sustainable and a rule-based global trade system. Elimination of the additional 25 percent tariffs on Turkish steel imports is a positive step. However, we expect the eradication of all obstacles before our bilateral trade,” Trade Minister Ruhsar Pekcan said on Twitter on May 17.
“Moreover, the removal of Turkey from the GSP (Generalized System of Preferences) does not comply with our endeavors to achieve 75 billion U.S. dollar bilateral trade volume. Impediments to bilateral trade hinder US firms as well as Turkish firms. We are committed to setting higher targets for our bilateral trade volume,” she added.
U.S. President Donald Trump on May 16 reduced tariffs on Turkish steel imports from 50 percent to 25 percent, citing what he said were necessary import reductions.
That will put tariffs at the level before the U.S. president decided to double them last August amid tensions over a since-freed American pastor who was detained in Turkey.
During that time, the United States and Turkey imposed reciprocal tariffs on a number of goods, including Turkish steel and aluminum.
Trump said in his proclamation that imports of steel products from Turkey declined 48 percent in 2018, “with the result that the domestic industry’s capacity utilization has improved at this point to approximately the target level recommended” by Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.
That level, Trump said, “will improve the financial viability” of the U.S. steel industry in the long term.
His proclamation said that maintaining the 25 percent tariffs remains “necessary,” however.
Terminating preferential trade
The White House also announced that it was appropriate to terminate Turkey’s eligibility to participate in the GSP program, based on its level of economic development.
The decision was effective May 17, it added.
Turkey was one of 120 countries that participate in the GSP, the oldest and largest U.S. trade preference program. It aims to promote economic development in beneficiary countries and territories by eliminating duties on thousands of products.
The United States imported $1.66 billion in 2017 from Turkey under the GSP program, representing 17.7 percent of total U.S. imports from Turkey, according to the U.S. Trade Representative’s website.
The leading GSP import categories were vehicles and vehicle parts, jewelry and precious metals, and stone articles, the website said.