Priebus: Steel Production ‘Is an Important Issue…for National Security’

By Susan Jones | July 10, 2017 | 8:02 AM EDT

U.S. Steel's Gary Works plant in 1973. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

( - “Don't like steel & aluminum dumping!” President Donald Trump tweeted last week, before he left for the G20 leaders’ summit meeting in Germany.

On Sunday, Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told “Fox News Sunday” he believes President Trump will impose tariffs on steel imports, “because he promised that he would.”

OK, first of all, the president does what he says he's going to do. He's been talking about steel, aluminum, cars for 30 years, my entire -- practically my entire life. He is -- he believes in the things that he believes in.

There's also a national security peace to this, and the American people need to understand. If a country loses its ability to produce steel, it loses something in regards to national security, a country cannot find itself importing steel from China -- subjected to dumping of steel from other countries -- and decreasing productivity.

This is an important issue, not just for trade -- not just for the American worker, for national security.

If Trump imposes tariffs on steel, the European Union has threatened to retaliate with import restrictions of its own, but Priebus shrugged that off: “Maybe they will, maybe they won’t,” he said. “But they can’t take advantage of the United States.

“Many of these countries have been taking advantage of the United States, and part of the reason why President Trump is in the White House is because he told the American people that the time is over for the rest of the world to take advantage of the United States.”

Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, appearing on ABC’s “This Week,” said he is not worried about President Trump starting a trade war by imposing tariffs and quotas on imported steel.

“No, I'm not worried at all. Quite the contrary,” Mnuchin said. “We had substantive conversations on steel, especially with the Chinese delegation (at the G20). We're making very good progress with them, and I think that the threat of different actions in trade sanctions and other things is what's led to very proactive discussions with all of our counterparts.

“And what we're trying to do is negotiate agreements with them, and I think we're making very good progress on that. And if we can't get the agreements that President Trump wants, then we'll take action on trade.”

Mnuchin would not give details of Trump’s trade strategy:

“What I can tell you is, we had very substantive discussions and we think we're going to move forward. And let me tell you, you know, we made major progress from my first G20 finance ministers’ meeting, where we discussed trade, and it was 19 to 1.

We had almost a complete consensus on trade at this G20 leaders’ meeting…And almost every single bilat (bilateral) we were in, the president talked about trade, and what we're looking for is free and free trade, and we're looking to make sure that we can grow our exports so that we don't have a giant trade imbalance.”

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