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Commerce Dept. backs tariffs on imported aluminum and steel

Commerce Dept. backs tariffs on imported aluminum and steel

China is by far the largest producer and exporter of steel, and the largest source of excess steel capacity.

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".

"On an average month, China produces almost as much steel as the US does in a year". Such measures would encourage steel and aluminum producers to come back to the US, he said. "And we presented the President with a range of alternatives that goes from a big tariff on everything from everywhere, to very selective tariffs from a very selective group of countries".

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross has scheduled a briefing with reporters today.

Warning China, Trump said Beijing has decimated the American steel and aluminium industry and he is "considering all options". They are almost four times exports.

The recommendations could boost the USA steel industry.

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




The tariffs and quotas would be in addition to any duties already in place. "Our comments included non-exhaustive lists of steel and aluminum products that must be excluded from any import adjustments to keep our industry running smoothly".

Employment in the steel industry has declined by 35 percent since 1998.

The aluminum recommendations include a 7.7% tariff on imports from all exporter nations.

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. And only one company in the country produces the high-quality aluminum alloy used for military aerospace purposes. "Not only do we now have a steel surplus with Canada, but we share a border and have synergistic strategic, economic, and national security interests". As of February 15, 2018, the USA had two antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place on aluminum, both against China, and there are four ongoing investigations against China. "It'll make a decision, and I will make a decision that reflects the best interests of the U.S., including the need to address overproduction in China and other countries". These would cover both aluminum ingots and a wide variety of aluminum products.

The country-specific aluminum tariff option would impose a 23.6 percent tariff on all products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam.

A 63-percent quota of those countries' 2017 imports is recommended in the steel report.

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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