Monday, 21 January, 2019

US Commerce Dept. proposes hefty tariffs on imported steel and aluminum

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Nellie Chapman | 18 February, 2018, 04:10

The Trump administration is recommending an array of stiff tariffs and other tough trade actions on imports of steel and aluminum from China and other nations, saying the influx of foreign metals has compromised national security.

The agency is recommending that President Trump take immediate protective action by "adjusting the level of imports through quotas or tariffs on steel imported into the United States, as well as direct additional actions to keep the US steel industry financially viable and able to meet USA national security needs".

"A major cause of the recent decline in the US aluminum industry is the rapid increase in production in China", it said. As part of this option, the USA would also impose a quota on all other countries limited to the amount of aluminum and steel they exported to the US previous year. 3.

The proposed measures are meant to lift USA production to 80 percent in both industries. US steel plants are running at 73 percent of capacity and aluminum plants at 48 percent.

China was the 11th-biggest exporter, but it ships steel to the United States via other countries as well, leading the department to propose import restrictions from a broader range of countries.

Ross told reporters the principal question was whether cheap imports impaired USA national security by making domestic production unviable. "For example, there is only one remaining USA producer of the high-quality aluminum alloy needed for military aerospace". The last resort is to impose a global import quota of percent based on the countries' aluminum exports past year. The Commerce Department called for a percent tariff on all aluminum imports, or a country-specific tariff of 23.five percent on aluminum products from five countries - China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated China exported 688,793 metric tons of steel products to the United States through 11 months in 2017, down by about 5 percent from 2016.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is proposing steep tariffs or quotas on imported steel and aluminum, including those from South Korea. "The president must act urgently to stop trade cheats from undermining our steel companies and steelworkers".

The report found 10 U.S. steel furnaces have closed since 2000, causing a 35 per cent drop in employment, while global excess steel capacity is seven times greater than USA demand, largely due to China.

On aluminum, Ross presented three options including the 7.7 percent global tariff on all aluminum imports.

Since the United States joined the World Trade Organization in 1995, it has only pursued two such investigations.

A spokeswoman for Portman said that the senator "looks forward to reviewing the Commerce Department's recommendations".

Critics fear that other countries will retaliate or use national security as a pretext to impose trade sanctions of their own.

Ross said typical U.S. trade actions against dumping and illegitimate subsidies had failed to address market oversupply, particularly by China, because "Serial offenders can evade these orders by transshipment through another country, with or without additional processing".

China this week appealed to President Trump to settle the steel and aluminum disputes through negotiation.

The Trump administration is also considering imposing sanctions against China for forcing American companies to share their intellectual property and stealing trade secrets.