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US will not benefit from import duties on steel and aluminum — former finance minister

Alexei Kudrin stressed that in the modern world, the consequences of such steps need to be carefully considered

MOSCOW, April 23. /TASS/. The US will not benefit from the introduction of import duties on steel and aluminum, head of the Center for Strategic Research (CSR) and Russia’s former Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin said in an interview with NTV television channel.

"As economists calculated, by introducing these duties the Trump administration won’t benefit. It seems like he acted as a populist saying: let's restrict imports of steel, aluminum, let’s give more to our companies. But as a result, firstly, they [the United States] will get more expensive steel, of a different quality, and secondly, other countries will also introduce retaliatory sanctions, which means that some industries will lose anyway," Kudrin said.

He stressed that in the modern world, the consequences of such steps need to be carefully considered, and therefore the Russian economy, if it wants to become successful, should not try to isolate it domestic market.

"We need to work on foreign markets and to do this in compliance with the rules agreed with other countries. The basic document for it is the WTO, it is not outdated, as many think. If suddenly we drop the WTO today or the world abandons it, this will be a blow to world trade, countries will be forced to introduce barriers," the head of the CSR said.

Kudrin recalled that in his message to the Federal Assembly Russian President Vladimir Putin stressed the need to double non-oil and gas exports. This task, according to the head of the CSR, is very ambitious, but feasible. To do this, it is necessary to double the number of domestic companies that will work for export. This requires creating comfortable conditions for Russian companies to enter foreign markets, Kudrin said.

"This should be facilitated by our foreign policy and our relations with other countries, let’s put it bluntly," he concluded.

In early March, US President Donald Trump slapped import duties on steel and aluminum (25% and 10% respectively), which came into force on March 23. However, until May 1, these tariffs won’t be applied to products from Canada, Mexico, the European Union, Australia, Argentina, Brazil and South Korea.

Many countries including Russia have already promised a symmetrical response to the United States and declared their intention to challenge the US tariffs in the WTO.

According to the Industry and Trade Ministry, Russian metal producers may suffer losses to the tune of at least $3 bln because of the US customs duties.