Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross chose to have a little fun when he appeared on air Friday to discuss President Donald Trump's decision to raise import taxes on steel and aluminum, which was announced yesterday.
The secretary made the remarks on Sunday during an interview with US broadcaster ABC, saying that "the decision obviously is his, but as of the moment he's talking about a fairly broad brush".
Numerous world leaders and ministers have been in touch with Mr Trump and U.S. officials including Mr Ross, suggesting an intensive behind-the-scenes effort to change the president's mind, the commerce secretary said.
However, Secretary Ross hinted at the possibility of Trump changing his mind during an interview with NBC's "Meet the Press", saying that ministers of many countries talked with President Trump and himself.
May's office said the two leaders spoke by phone and she "raised our deep concern at the President's forthcoming announcement on steel and aluminum tariffs, noting that multilateral action was the only way to resolve the problem of global overcapacity".
Dan DiMicco, the former CEO of US steelmaker Nucor, said President Trump is right to slap tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, especially from China. I know that a lot of ministers from a lot of countries have been talking with the President. "So if that goes up by 25 percent, that's about six-tenths of 1 cent on the price on a can of Campbell's soup", Ross said.
The commerce secretary dismissed European Union threats of retaliatory tariffs on flagship American products, including Harley Davidson motorcycles, bourbon and Levi's jeans, calling the $3 billion in affected goods a "pretty trivial" amount.
"The US oil and natural gas industry, in particular, relies on specialty steel for many of its projects that most US steel makers don't supply", American Petroleum Institute president Jack Gerard said last week.
Possible billionaire Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is most-famous for the $600 custom embroidered velvet slippers he wore one year ago to Trump's speech before a joint session of Congress.
European Union leaders are reacting angrily to the U.S. move and say they're considering retaliatory tariffs. He said the total amount of tariffs the United States government is proposing is about $US9 billion a year, a fraction of 1 per cent of the economy.
"In our size economy that's a tiny, tiny fraction of 1 per cent", Ross said.
Sherrie Rosenblatt, vice president and spokeswoman for the institute, told AFP the value of metal in an individual consumer item did not reflect the true burden tariffs would create for can manufacturers and users.
Peter Navarro, a top White House trade adviser, said the administration would consider exemptions on a case-by-case basis, but "no country exclusions". The flood of Chinese steel has been blamed for the loss of USA 50,000 jobs since 2000, a year before China joined the World Trade Organization.