Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on potential price increases from Trump tariffs: ‘No big deal’

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told CNBC on Friday that President Donald Trump‘s tariffs are “no big deal.”

During an appearance on “Squawk on the Street,” Ross said the tariffs will have a “broad” but “trivial” impact on prices. “What was announced yesterday by the president is a very broad concept,” he said.

Ross used a can of Campbell Soup to stress his point about the insignificant price increase during the interview.

“In a can of Campbell Soup, there are about 2.6 pennies worth of steel. So if that goes up by 25 percent, that’s about six-tenths of one cent on the price on a can of Campbell Soup,” Ross argued.

On Thursday, Trump announced new tariffs on aluminum and steel, sparking fears of a possible trade war and sending the stock market into a tailspin. The Commerce Department recommended imposing heavy tariffs or quotas on foreign producers of steel and aluminum last month in the interest of national security.

Ross said at the time that steel is, in fact, important to U.S. national security, and that current import flows are adversely impacting the steel industry.

The Secretary of Commerce “concludes that the present quantities and circumstance of steel imports are ‘weakening our internal economy’ and threaten to impair the national security as defined in Section 232,” the department said on Feb. 16.

“This is not the first time we put tariffs on steel. We have tariffs on many forms of steel,” Ross said Friday. “The reason why we’ve had to go this route is they don’t solve the problem of overcapacity in global dumping.”

“Economic strength is military strength,” Ross said, stressing the president is right on that.

In a tweet Friday morning, Trump suggested the U.S. would come out on top if the new tariffs were to spark an international trade war.

But not everyone close to Trump is happy about tariffs.

There are multiple media reports casting doubt on top economic advisor Gary Cohn‘s future after he was unable to convince the president not to impose steel and aluminium tariffs.

Cohn, who was the No. 2 executive at Goldman Sachs before joining the White House, is seen by Wall Street as a moderating voice in the administration.

 

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