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Bahrain ‘must be exempted from new US tariffs’

Bahrain News
Wed, 14 Mar 2018
By Sandeep Singh Grewal
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A CALL has gone out to exempt Bahrain from a US decision to impose new tariffs on the aluminium and steel industry.

Last week US President Donald Trump announced a 25 per cent tariff on imported steel and 10pc on aluminium aimed at saving the US steel industry and cutting its deficit.

Trump’s plans have irritated US allies and sparked concerns about a trade war, with the European Union warning it was ready to retaliate with counter-measures against iconic US products such as Harley Davidson motorcycles, Levi’s jeans and bourbon.

International Monetary Fund (IMF) spokesman Gerry Rice also said the import restrictions could damage the US economy and called to resolve trade disagreements without resorting to such emergency measures.

The three largest categories of Bahraini exports to the US include aluminium, mineral fuel and fertilisers.

According to data posted by Alba on its website, 11pc of its total sales went to the Americas (North and South) in 2016, which further increased to 12pc last year.

However, Alba declined to comment when contacted by the GDN about potential implications of the US decision.

Two-way trade between Bahrain and the US has more than doubled since the adoption of a Free Trade Agreement (FTA), from $782 million in 2005 to $1.7 billion in 2016, US Ambassador Justin Siberell told the GDN in January.

“Aluminium is Bahrain’s top export to the US, representing 61pc of all goods exported from Bahrain to the US in 2017,” said American Chamber of Commerce in Bahrain (AmCham) Bahrain president Qays Zu’bi.

“This is significant to Bahrain’s economy, but is considered a very small percentage of the total aluminium imported by the US worldwide.

“Bahrain and the United States enjoy a very good relationship.

“We remain optimistic that Bahrain, being a key strategic ally of the US and a host to the US Fifth Fleet, as well as beneficiary of the US-Bahrain Free Trade Agreement will be given due consideration for an exemption on the proposed tariffs.”

The US Embassy did not respond when contacted by the GDN.

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