US President Donald Trump’s proposed steel tariff hikes are a “backward step” according to CCI Chief Executive Officer Chris Rodwell.

Last week Trump announced he would protect the US’s domestic steel market by introducing tariffs of 25 per cent on imported steel and 10 per cent on aluminium.

The announcement stunned the US’s trading partners and sent the stock market into a slide.

Many countries including Australia and Canada are pushing for an exemption or reduction in the tariffs.

Steel exports to the US account for 0.8 per cent of the entire Australian steel export market while aluminium exports account for about 1.5 per cent of the market.   

Rodwell says it is deeply disappointing to see one of Australia’s largest trading partners take a backward step when other nations are forging ahead to open markets.

“Trade liberalisation underpins Australia’s prosperity. It is critical to improving living standards across the globe,” he says.

“We need to see past any instincts for retaliation and take the higher ground. The imminent signing of the Trans Pacific Partnership is the ideal retort in the circumstances.”

CCI Member BHP also blasted the tariffs in the media, labelling the announcement a “black day for the world and business.”