Published: Sat, February 17, 2018
Money | By Michele Stevens

Commerce Department Offers Trump Ammunition for His Trade War

Commerce Department Offers Trump Ammunition for His Trade War

"On an average month, China produces almost as much steel as the USA does in a year". Axios quotes one "trade expert" predicting that if Trump accepts these recommendations, it will represent a "declaration of war against the world on aluminum and steel", and another who suggests that it could wreck the World Trade Organization, the chief arbiter of trade rules. Furthermore, the report recommends that a process be put in place to allow Ross to grant requests from American companies to exclude specific products if the U.S. lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations.

Trump has until April 11 to accept or reject Ross's recommendations, and you can expect the mother of all internal lobbying fights over the issue between now and then.

The Department of Commerce found that the quantities and circumstances of steel and aluminum imports "threaten to impair the national security", as defined by Section 232.

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The proposed measures are meant to lift USA production to 80 percent 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.

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. A quota of 63% of 2017 exports for the countries listed in the prior sentence.

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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. He included among the options a tariff of almost 24 percent on all products from China, Russia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Venezuela. Both times - in a 1999 case involving oil imports and a 2001 case involving iron ore and steel imports - the Commerce Department refused to recommend sanctions.

They also say that imposing sanctions on imports will drive up prices and hurt automakers and other companies that use steel or aluminum. We call on President Trump to act swiftly and boldly to save the American aluminum industry. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said Wednesday that all governments should "spare no effort to avoid negative impacts" on the global economy.

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