Trump Imposes Foreign Steel, Aluminum Tariffs in Defense of National Security

By Melanie Arter | March 8, 2018 | 7:32pm EST

( - President Donald Trump made good on a campaign promise by formally announcing Thursday that he is imposing tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum, saying American industries have been targeted for decades by unfair foreign trade practices - something that’s not only an “economic disaster” but a “security disaster.”

“Our industries have been targeted for years and years and decades in fact by unfair foreign trade practices leading to the shuttered plants and mills, the laying off of millions of workers and the decimation of entire communities, and that’s going to stop,” he said. “This is not merely an economic disaster, but it’s a security disaster.

“We want to build our ships. We want to build our planes. We want to build our military equipment with steel, with aluminum from our country. And now we’re finally taking action to correct this long overdue problem. It’s a travesty. Today I’m defending America’s national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum,” the president said.

“We will have a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel and a 10 percent tariff on foreign aluminum when the product comes across our borders,” he announced.

Countries like China, for example, have flooded the market with cheap steel and aluminum, which drove U.S. plants out of business, the president said.

“It’s a process called dumping, and they dumped more than at any time on any nation anywhere in the world, and it drove our plants out of business. It drove our factories out of business, and we want a lot of steel coming into our country, but we want it to be fair, and we want our workers to be protected, and we want frankly our companies to be protected,” he said.

The president pledged not to place new taxes on American-made products, and he urged American companies to buy American-made goods.

“By contrast, we will not place any new tax on product made in the USA, so there’s no tax if a product is made in the USA. You don’t want to pay tax? Bring your plant to the USA. There’s no tax, which we will benefit from the massive tax cuts that we have in place,” Trump said.

The president touted his tax cut plan and efforts to cut regulations, adding that “we have a long way to go on regulations, but we’ve already cut more than any president in history.”

“Other countries have added production capacity that far exceeds demand and flooded the world market with cheap metal that is subsidized by foreign governments, creating jobs for their country and taking away jobs from our country,” Trump said, something he has warned about for years even before considering a career in politics.

“For example, it takes China about one month to produce as much steel as they produce in the United States in an entire year, because we’ve closed down so much capacity. Plants closed all over the United States, and some plants-- I see massive plants from 40 years ago, and they’re working now in a little corner of the building. Well this is only the first stop,” he said.

“Aluminium imports now account for more than 90 percent of the primary American demand. Over the last two decades, nearly two-thirds of American steel companies have gone out of business. More than one-third of the steel jobs have disappeared. Six primary aluminum smelters - which is a big deal - have permanently shut down since just 2012,” the president added.

“The actions we’re taking today are not a matter of choice. They’re a matter of necessity for our security,” he said.

The president’s decision follows a nine-month investigation by the Commerce Department on the “growing crisis” of U.S. steel and aluminum production that threatens American security and hurts the U.S. economy and jobs.

“The American steel aluminum industry has been ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices” - a move Trump called “an assault on our country.”

According to the White House, “
Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended, gives the executive branch the ability to conduct investigations to ‘determine the effects on the national security of imports.’

“Within 270 days of initiating any investigation, the Commerce Department issues a report to the President with the investigation’s findings, including whether certain imports threaten to impair America’s national security. The President has 90 days to determine whether he concurs with the findings and, if so, to use his statutory authority under Section 232 ‘to adjust the imports’ as necessary, including through tariffs or quotas,” the White House added.

Since the president’s initial announcement, U.S. Steel has announced it will reopen a steel mill in Granite City, Ill., Trump noted.

“Our Granite City Works facility and employees, as well as the surrounding community, have suffered too long from the unending waves of unfairly traded steel products that have flooded U.S. markets,” U. S. Steel President and Chief Executive Officer David B. Burritt said in a

“The Section 232 action announced by President Trump last week recognizes the significant threat steel imports pose to our national and economic security. The President’s strong leadership is needed to begin to level the playing field so companies like ours can compete, win and create jobs that support our employees and the communities in which we operate as well as strengthen our national and economic security. We will continue to support our customers with the high-quality products they have come to expect from U. S. Steel,” the statement said.

“We’re already seeing the national security benefits of this order. Yesterday, in anticipation that we’d be here today. U.S Steel announced it’s reopening a mill in Illinois - a big one - and recalling 500 workers immediately,” Trump said.

“That’s going on all over the country, and by the way, it went on with solar panels, which we did three months ago and washing machines where they were dumping washing machines all over our country, and now they’re expanding plants to make washing machines. We put the tax on - a lot of you were here,” he said.

Century Aluminum plans to invest more than $100 million “to restart and upgrade their idled military grade high-quality aluminium production, which is also critically important to our national security,” Trump said.

“That’s 150,000 additional tons of aluminum and think of it, this is a closed plant, and now they’re doing 150,000 tons,” the president said.

“A skilled, trained workforce in steel is a crucial element of America’s national security and must be protected,” he said. The greatest presidents understood the importance of “a strong, vibrant and independent manufacturing base.” 


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