US Section 232 options justified, would not hurt downstream: Commerce

Big business to Trump Tariffs could backfire

The U.S. Commerce Department has recommended that President Donald Trump impose tariffs on aluminum imports from all countries, said people familiar with the proposal.

"We can not be without a steel industry", President Trump said Monday during a White House meeting with lawmakers.

The options include a 7.7% duty on all aluminum products from all countries, extending through to semi-fabricated products and finished aluminum products but not to consumer goods; or a 23.5% tariff on all aluminum products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam; or a quota on all products from all countries equal to a maximum of 86.7% of their 2017 exports to the US.

"As they dump steel, they pay tariffs - substantial tariffs - which means the United States would actually make a lot of money, and probably steel industry and aluminum industry would come back into our country".

The reports are now under consideration by the President, and no final decisions have been made with regard to their contents.

The federal government has taken action against the dumping of subsidized steel imports from other countries, including China.

Trump has until April 11 to announce his decision on steel import curbs and by April 20 to decide on aluminum restrictions. Ross also suggested limiting imports of steel into the United States. The country's imports are almost four times the amount of exports, according to the report.

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It cited, among other things, the shutdown of six basic oxygen furnaces and four electric furnaces since 2000 and a 35 percent drop in employment since 1998.

"Each of these remedies is meant to increase domestic steel production from its present 73 percent of capacity to approximately an 80 percent operating rate, the minimum rate needed for the long-term viability of the industry, " the statement said. China is by far the largest producer and exporter of steel, and the largest source of excess steel capacity.

The American steel industry has loudly pushed for help from Trump. U.S. Steel up 2 percent, and AK Steel up 1.1 percent. For certain types of steel, such as for electrical transformers, only one US producer remains.

Trump said the US steel and aluminum industries "are being decimated by dumping and from many countries".

Some U.S. companies will be able to request exclusions for specific products if the U.S. lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations, Ross added. Commerce Secretary Ross noted that Section 232 remedies do not require "the same tariff on every single country. 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".

"The ultimate decision rests with the president, the commerce secretary cautioned: "(Trump) will decide what he's going to do...