Trade policy and developments in Washington - Nomura

Analysts at Nomura noted that the Turkish lira was under pressure earlier today when, in an unprecedented move, President Trump announced, via Twitter, that the US would double steel and aluminum tariffs on imports from Turkey to 50% and 20%, respectively (at the moment, no official guidance has been posted by the Department of Commerce or White House).

Key Quotes:

"Market pressure intensified significantly after Trump’s statement. For the day, the Turkish lira depreciated more than 15% versus the US dollar

USTR Robert Lighthizer had a busy week despite Trump and Congress taking time off away from Washington. First, Lighthizer announced on Tuesday that the 25% tariff on $16bn in Chinese imports – on hold over the past few weeks due to a lengthy review process – would go into effect on 23 August, escalating trade tensions further. China released a statement shortly thereafter indicating that proportional retaliatory tariffs, 25% on roughly $16bn in imports from the US, would take effect on the same date. Second, NAFTA renegotiations continued on Thursday and Friday as Mexico’s Economy Minister Ildefonso Guajardo and Lighthizer reconvened to try and find common ground on major bilateral issues, particularly autos. However, Guajardo indicated on Friday that no definitive agreement could be reached between the two sides and that negotiations would continue next week, casting some uncertainty on the proposed 25 August deadline for reaching an agreement in principle. Finally, Lighthizer also met with Japan’s Finance Minister Motegi on Thursday and Friday in DC with the Section 232 auto tariffs a key topic of discussion. There is a large gap between the two countries as Japan prefers that the US join the Trans Pacific Partnership 11 (TPP 11), while the US insists on a bilateral trade agreement.

On Tuesday, a special election in a heavily Republican Ohio House district continued the trend of Democrat overperformance this year as the Republican candidate appeared to win by a very narrow margin. Overall, momentum for House Democrats appears intact three months out from the 6 November midterm elections. At the moment, it appears increasingly likely that Democrats will regain control of the House. However, the fate of the Senate remains much more uncertain as many Senate Democrats will be defending seats in states that supported President Trump during the 2016 presidential election. The midterm campaign season usually picks up after Labor Day (3 September)."

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