Commerce Dept. backs tariffs on imported aluminum and steel
17 February, 2018, 00:38 | Author: Samuel Sharp
The U.S. Commerce Department has recommended that President Donald Trump impose steep curbs on steel and aluminum imports from China and other nations ranging from global and country-specific tariffs to broad import quotas, according to proposals released on Friday.
"Now is the time for Presidential action to prevent excess steel capacity and surging steel imports from undermining our national security and the viability of the US steel industry", the companies stated. U.S. Steel and AK Steel spiked 10%, while Alcoa rallied 3% and Century Aluminum climbed 7%. More than two dozen US steel and steel-related companies and associations wrote Trump a letter on February 2 urging "strong action" to support domestic steel.
Ross said that the decline in production capacity is "weakening our internal economy and may impair our national security", in the report.
The reports are now under consideration by the President, and no final decisions have been made with regard to their contents. Under this option, the United States would also impose a quota limiting all other countries to the aluminum and steel they exported to the United States a year ago. The Commerce Department estimated that each of the recommendations could help increase domestic steel production from its current level of 73 percent capacity to 80 percent capacity. "For certain types of steel, such as for electrical transformers, only one US producer remains", the release stated. "Therefore, if the Administration determines that a tariff is necessary, MEMA urges the Administration to take a country- and product-specific approach to this issue rather than imposing blanket quotas or tariffs on all steel and aluminum imports".
The Commerce Department is recommending steep tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.
The measures would cover not only finished products but also semifinished goods such as blooms, billets and slabs, Ross told American Metal Market during a conference call with reporters on Friday February 16.
The measures would be in addition to any duties now in place. The report recommends that a process be put in place to allow the DOC secretary to grant requests from USA companies to exclude specific products if the US lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations. Another option would see a 53 per cent tariff on a smaller list of countries that does not include the northern neighbour.
He said "there has been no dialing back" of the recommendations due to objections from industries that use steel and aluminum.
A 63% quota of those countries' 2017 steel imports is recommended in the report.
The Commerce Department has recently brought trade cases to try to address the dumping of aluminum. Ross also suggested a 23.5% tariff on aluminum products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam.
For aluminum, the secretary presented a similar array of three options.
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