When US President Donald Trump announced that he would ask Congress to impose a 25% tariff on more than 1,300 Chinese imports amounting to an export value of $50bn, the world held its breath for signs of a full-blown trade war between the world’s largest economies. Retaliation from China and a subsequent escalation from the US was swift, confirming that trade relations between the two are in stormy waters. Watching superpowers edging towards a hostile relationship strikes fear into the rest of the world. But what does this mean for us? According to the Department of Trade and Industry, SA exports $950m worth of steel and $375m worth of aluminium to the US, accounting for 1.4% and 1.6% of US imports. The US is also SA’s smallest steel and aluminium market, with Asia and Europe importing significantly more. But an ailing industry can ill afford any setbacks, and SA was quick to ask the US for an exemption from the tariffs. Despite diplomatic efforts in Washington and Pretoria, Trade a...

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