United States may impose steel, aluminium tariffs

Mae Love
February 18, 2018

China's Commerce Ministry said yesterday that the country will take necessary steps to protect itself if a final United States decision on imposing steep curbs on steel and aluminium imports from China and other countries affects China's interests.

China has a message to President Donald Trump if he imposes heavy tariffs on steel and aluminum imports: The Asian nation will retaliate.

Stepped-up foreign production of steel and aluminium, especially by China, has driven down prices and hurt American producers. USA steel plants are running at 73 per cent of capacity and aluminium plants at 48 per cent.

He has until April 11 to announce his decision on steel import curbs and April 20 to decide on aluminium restrictions. He said, for example, that only one United States company now produces a high-quality aluminium alloy needed for military aircraft.

The report suggested three options - a global tariff on steel of 24 percent, a tariff of 53 percent or more on a dozen specified countries including South Korea, or a quota limiting individual countries' steel imports to 63 percent of their exports in the previous year.

According to the Department of Commerce data, South Korea stood third in amount of steel exports to the U.S., accounting for 10.2 percent as of the end of October past year.

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Other countries would be subject to a quota limiting their tariff-free access equal to their steel exports to the U.S. previous year. The United States is threatening massive tariffs on steel exported to the United States.

The agency found that "the quantities and circumstances of steel and aluminum imports 'threaten to impair the national security, ' as defined by Section 232 (of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962)", said a Xinhua report.

Washington "should not lightly adopt restrictive measures under the pretext of "national security".

Both times - in a 1999 case involving oil imports and a 2001 case involving iron ore and steel imports - the Commerce Department refused to recommend sanctions. In a letter to Trump Monday, a coalition of steel-using companies urged the president "to avoid any decision which would do harm to so many downstream steel manufacturing companies and other steel consumers".

"The private and public sectors shall work together to maximize contact with the United States government, Congress and the (steel) industry until the final decision is made", the ministry said in a release.

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