President Trump on Thursday signed a pair of proclamations that impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum while offering relief to some U.S. allies, as the president took his most significant step yet away from free trade but stopped short of the global tariffs his GOP allies begged him to avoid. The tariffs, set to take effect in 15 days, do not apply to imports from Canada and Mexico so that U.S. officials can assess progress as they renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement. Other countries with a “security relationship” to the United States may seek exemptions by opening talks with the administration on “alternative ways” to address the threats the administration alleges their products pose to national security.
China’s natural gas imports soared to a record high in December to battle a winter supply crisis. Gas imports, including pipeline imports and tanker shipments of liquefied natural gas (LNG), came in at 7.89 million tonnes, 20 per cent above November’s previous record of 6.55 million tonnes, data from the General Administration of Customs showed. Imports for the whole of 2017 jumped 27 per cent from 2016 to a record 68.57 million tonnes. Crude oil imports instead eased sharply from November. December’s crude oil imports hit 33.7 million tonnes, or about 7.94 million barrels per day (bpd), compared to November’s 9.01 million bpd. Buying eased in December because refiners and fuel distributors drew on inventories after hefty stockpiling in the previous month.