It’s as yet unclear what the global trade war that US President Donald Trump is about to unleash could mean for SA. But the trouble with trade wars is they risk hitting the most vulnerable nations hardest. So emerging markets, SA included, should be afraid, very afraid. Trump’s comments last week have already caused jitters in emerging market stocks, which took a pounding on Friday. While Brazil, South Korea and China are the most exposed to the threat of new tariffs, South African stocks were also affected, dragged down by ArcelorMittal, which fell 5.5%. Trump wants to deliver on his election campaign promise to put steep tariffs on US-produced steel and aluminium to protect local industry. Ironically, perhaps, this is something SA has done in the recent past, imposing safeguard tariffs on steel imports in terms of World Trade Organisation rules in an effort to cope with the impact of the global surplus that huge excess capacity in China’s steel industry has caused. SA was one of t...

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