CorruptUser wrote:I'm not sure I understand the whole point of the tariffs.
Steel is an industry, but it's not manufacturing. It's a primary sector industry like timber or farming, and while it's a process that's a step or two above mining the raw resources themselves, the end product is an interchangeable commodity with any other steel*. While it's all well and good to have local primary industries that are capable of ramping up production if you get cut off, the money isn't in the primary industry, and hasn't been for centuries if not millenia. Just subsidize production capability but have everything mothballed, if it's that important. Let the other countries produce all the steel they can, buy up that steel for cheap and then sell it back to them at twice the price in the form of cars and such.
*ok I realize there's different grades of steel, and the Chinese steel is known to be both cheaper and far weaker; there's a reason that even the Russians could make ballpoint pens but the Chinese can't
Ehh, largely, where it is valid(and I'm certainly not claiming that every instance is), it's a way to counteract tariffs from the country. They charge heavy taxes on you, you charge heavy taxes right back, and it ends up sort of balancing out, or ideally, you negotiate a way to remove both. Some companies sell us lots of stuff cheaply, but have significant tariffs on the end results of those manufacturing chains.
It can also have some virtues when you consider differing regulatory environments and shared commons. If, say, China makes things very cheaply, but does so by putting out a ton of emissions, while say, European companies are both more expensive and less polluting, attempting to offset those additional shared costs via tariff might make sense.
Maintaining production is also considered a national security thing, mostly for prolonged conflicts like say, WW2, during which a lot of heavy industry turned out to be super essential, and basically won us the war. It's not a money thing, really(though it is for if you do it for protectionist reasons, rather than defense), but this concern can be valid. If you offshore all the heavy industry, you can end up vulnerable in a prolonged conflict. A mothballed factory with no trained workers is not nearly so viable as an operating, well trained industry. Not only does it take time to get people up to speed, in wartime, factories are often skewed a bit to produce other, related things. People who are already trained up on how things work are more able to deal with difficult changes than those who don't know how anything works at all.
The big problem is that protectionism is always there. Pretty much any country is advantaged by arranging a way of charging others tariffs and not being charged them in turn. So, pretty much every country has some motivation to try to justify unnecessary tariffs via the above reasons whenever possible. If you do it too much, and get retaliatory tariffs too frequently, you get a trade war, and everyone loses, but, yknow...prisoner's dilemma.
All countries have these valid needs in addition to protectionism, and unfortunately, it can be a bit of a tangled mess to figure out what's what and make everyone happy. So, tariffs definitely CAN be valid, but are definitely not always so.