Stocks wobble on news of Cohn, China

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The EU has warned that it could retaliate with tariffs on US steel, agricultural and other products, such as peanut butter, cranberries and orange juice.

See what cartoonists from around the globe have to say about the tariffs - and the possibility of a trade war. A White House official said Trump was referencing an ongoing investigation of China in which the USA trade representative is studying whether Chinese intellectual property rules are "unreasonable or discriminatory" to American business. Steel and aluminum workers were invited to the White House for the afternoon announcement with Trump.

Kosei Shindo, chairman of the Japan Iron and Steel Federation, echoed the view, saying that the measures may create "a negative chain reaction by other countries taking similar actions under similar pretenses". However, China is known to have previously used economic measures against U.S. allies.

The world's two largest economies buy and sell a huge amount of other goods from each other, though. We're losing with China USD 500 billion a year.

Oddly, the primary victims of these tariffs, which are being imposed under a law that lets the president restrict trade to protect national security, will be American allies like the European Union and South Korea.

The move fulfilled one of the pledges he made on the campaign trail. But it added that it will "do its best" to get on the list of countries that are exempt from the restrictions.

The move has "spooked markets, prompted his chief economist's resignation, rattled major USA allies and widened a rift with establishment Republicans", says CNN. Canada and Mexico were given exemptions while the renegotiation of a more US-friendly NAFTA deal is underway.

The President demanded change - giving an example that China now imposed 25% tariffs on US-made cars while vehicles produced in China for the United States market had a tax rate of just 2.5%.

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"It's really an assault on our country", he blasted, announcing the tariffs on the metals used in everything from cars to construction, roads to railways.

Japan is the fourth biggest trading partner with the US.

More than 100 House GOP lawmakers sent a letter to the president Wednesday urging him to "reconsider the idea of broad tariffs to avoid unintended negative consequences to the USA economy and its workers".

The EU has said it could respond with new tariffs on American products including orange juice, bourbon, denim, cranberries, peanut butter and motorcycles.

Non-US governments, and particularly democracies, "are under enormous pressure not to be seen to be caving to the Trump administration", because of his unpopularity overseas, said Timothy Meyer, an global trade specialist and law professor at Vanderbilt University.

Surrounded by a group of steelworkers, Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, and Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Trump approvingly cited President William McKinley, a champion of protectionist economic policy, to support his trade decision.

But facing an adverse ruling by the World Trade Organization and retaliation by trading partners, he lifted them 15 months before the end of the planned three-year duration.

Canada, very likely, expressed its displeasure over the entire idea of Trump administration.

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