Donald Trump's determination to start a global trade war could land British steel exporters with an immediate £90 million bill and eventually cost well over £1,300 million if the US president carries out his threat to attack car exports from Europe.
Currently the UK sells £360 million of high-value steel products to the US - 15% of the UK's steel exports. All of that is now threatened with a 25% import tax. That £90 million bill could destroy UK steel exports to the US.
President Trump also plans to hit aluminium imports to the US with a 10% levy, but UK aluminium production is relatively small with only one working smelter.
An even bigger threat comes from Trump's determination to escalate a trade war if the EU uses its legal right to protect its domestic industry against US steel tariffs by imposing reciprocal tariffs. Trump has said the will then target European car exports for a revenge attack - and that would expose the UK's £5,000 million of car exports to the US to huge risk: a 25% tax on car exports would add over £1,300 million to the cost of buying British cars in the States - so effectively clobbering the industry.
Commenting, Chuka Umunna MP, leading supporter of Open Britain, said:
“Brextremists recognise themselves in Donald Trump and think that means he will ride to their rescue when UK trade hits the buffers, if we Brexit, jeopardising jobs and industries.
“This shows Trump means it when he says 'America First' - there will be no special favours for Britain. Yet the backers of a hard Brexit, from Theresa May down, pin their hopes on Trump, even as he outlines his plans to hammer British exporters and destroy the global order.
“There can hardly be a clearer indication that Brexit risks jobs and prosperity. As nobody voted in the referendum to be worse off or to lose their job, we are all right to keep an open mind as to whether Brexit is the right choice for Britain and British industry.”