Trump gets recommendations on tariffs for steel imports

US Commerce Department proposes hefty import curbs on steel aluminum from Vietnam China

The Commerce Department on Friday recommended setting strict new limits on imported steel and aluminum, saying action is needed to shore up USA industries vital to national security.

Several senators urged caution, however, including Senator Roy Blunt, who said, "we do need to be careful here that we don't start a reciprocal battle on tariffs" because the United States not only makes aluminum and steel but also must buy and import these products to satisfy domestic demand.

One option would see the US impose a 24 per cent tariff on steel imports from everywhere - including Canada.

Another option will be tariffs of at least 53% on steel imports from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, India, Russia, Egypt, Malaysia, South Korea, Thailand, South Africa, Turkey, and Vietnam.

WASHINGTON — The Trump administration on Friday recommended an array of stiff tariffs and other tough trade actions on imports of steel and aluminum from China and other nations, saying the influx of foreign metals has compromised national security.

The goal of these tariffs would be to increase domestic production of steel and grow the USA steel workforce.

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The president ordered the investigations of steel and aluminum in April as he implemented get-tough trade policies that were a cornerstone of economic agenda.

The options suggested include limiting all countries to steel exports equal to 63 per cent of their 2017 exports into the USA, or a more severe quota for a smaller list of countries if Trump goes the more targeted route. The third alternative was a quota on all imports from all countries of up to 86.7 percent of their 2017 exports to the United States. Due to that threat, Ross recommended the president reduce imports through quotas or tariffs. China was noted as the "largest source of excess steel capacity", which in itself exceeds the total USA steel-making capacity. Although Trump campaigned on a protectionist platform, he has taken only modest action so far to restrict imports.

Senator Pat Toomey cautioned the president to proceed cautiously under Section 232 for national security reasons, arguing that USA defense needs account for only about 3 percent of domestic steel consumption.

According to the Aluminum Association, there are five USA smelting facilities that are operating with three partial curtailments. And only one company in the country produces the high-quality aluminum alloy used for military aerospace purposes.

The Aluminum Association Friday separately said while Commerce said job loss in the primary aluminum sector was 58% between 2013 and 2016, the total industry saw a slight increase in jobs during that period. All others would be subject to quotas equal to their 2017 exports to the United States.

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