US Section 232 options justified, would not hurt downstream: Commerce
17 Февраля 2018, 12:48 | Gordon Grant
White House Holds Meeting to Discuss Aluminum and Steel Trade Actions
In opening the discussions, President Trump stated that while he wants to keep prices down, he also wishes to "make sure that we have a steel industry and aluminum industry, and we do need that for national defense".
It's far too early to know how the Trump administration's proposed tariffs would shake out in the long run.
Trump met with a bipartisan group of USA senators and representatives at the White House last week, signaling he would take at least some action to restrict imports of the two metals.
The recommendations pushed up Century Aluminum (CENX) almost 10% on the stock market today, while Alcoa rose just 0.7% after initially soaring. More than two dozen USA steel and steel-related companies and associations wrote Trump a letter on February 2 urging "strong action" to support domestic steel.
Trump said the US steel and aluminum industries "are being decimated by dumping and from many countries". "Other countries will retaliate, killing the very exports and American jobs this administration seeks to promote".
Senator Pat Toomey cautioned the president to proceed cautiously under Section 232 for national security reasons, arguing that US defense needs account for only about 3 percent of domestic steel consumption.
Ross criticized China, the world's largest producer of steel, for overproduction. The president could also consider the countries' willingness to work with the United States to address global excess capacity and other challenges facing the USA aluminum and steel industries. Some companies in the steel industry, as well as unions such as United Steelworkers, have been pushing the president to come down hard on imports.
At today's reduced military spending, military consumption of aluminum is a small percentage of total consumption and therefore is insufficient by itself to preserve the viability of the smelters.
At least a 53% tariff on steel imports from Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, Vietnam, with a quota by product on steel imports from all other countries equal to 100% of their 2017 exports to the U.S.
The department notes that employment in the aluminum industry fell by 58 percent between 2013 and 2016, while employment in the steel industry dropped 35 percent in the last 20 years.
Commerce issued a statement and Secretary Wilbur Ross held a phone briefing with the media to explain the findings and recommendations of the report, which was handed to President Donald Trump January 19.
A quota on all imports from all countries equal to a maximum of 86.7% of their 2017 exports to the United States.
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