US Commerce secretary outlines three options on steel imports

17 February, 2018, 01:15 | Author: Sheri Evans
  • Trump administration recommends tariffs on steel aluminum

Today, Secretary Wilbur Ross released reports on the U.S. Department of Commerce's investigations into the impact on our national security from imports of steel mill products and from imports of wrought and unwrought aluminum.

The proposal is likely to raise tensions with China, Japan and other US trading partners. Due to that threat, Ross recommended the president reduce imports through quotas or tariffs.

The measures are meant to increase USA production to 80 percent of capacity in both industries.

Each of the three proposals is meant to raise production of aluminum from the present 48% average capacity to 80%, a level that would provide the industry with long-term viability.

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The President is required to make a decision on the steel recommendations by April 11, 2018, and on the aluminum recommendations by April 19, 2018.

In each case "the imports threaten to impair our national security", Ross told reporters in a conference call about the so-called Section 232 investigation.

For steel, Ross recommended three possible options: a 24 per cent tariff on all steel from all countries; a 53 per cent tariff on imports from 12 countries, including China, Russia and Brazil; or a quota on steel from all countries. The alert by the European Commission also followed Trump's decision earlier in January to impose tariffs on US imports of solar panels and washing machines on the basis of rarely used "safeguard" rules.

A quota on all steel products from all countries equal to 63% of each country's 2017 exports to the United States.

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Among its key findings, the report found that the United States is the world's largest importer of steel - with imports almost four times greater than its exports.

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president the power to restrict imports and impose unlimited tariffs if a Commerce Department investigation finds they threaten national security. In a letter to Trump Monday, a coalition of steel-using companies urged the president "to avoid any decision which would do harm to so many downstream steel manufacturing companies and other steel consumers".

The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.

The Trump administration is also considering imposing sanctions against China for forcing American companies to share their intellectual property and stealing trade secrets.

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