SINGAPORE (Feb 26): On Feb 16, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross proposed a tariff of at least 24% on steel imports from all countries and at least 7.7% on aluminium imports. His recommendations were issued following anti-dumping investigations that have lasted several months, and mark an escalation in US protectionism under President Donald Trump.

In January, the US Trade Representative imposed a 30% tariff on imported solar panels. The agency responsible for US trade policy also imposed a 20% tariff on the first 1.2 million imported large residential washers this year. A tariff of 50% will be imposed on subsequent imports, but both tariffs will come down to 16% and 40% respectively in 2020.

As the global economy improves, global trade is picking up too. And trade-dependent economies such as Singapore should benefit. But a trade war threatens to reverse the recovery. Is Singapore at risk of being slapped with punitive measures? How vulnerable is the economy to protectionist sentiment in the US?

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