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Over 50% tariffs on steel recommended to Trump

17 February 2018

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross will reveal options for steel and aluminum tariffs on national security grounds at noon a.m. EST (1700 GMT) on Friday, the department said, the first insight into how the Trump administration may proceed to curb imports of the metals.

Secretary Ross has recommended to President Trump three alternative remedies for dealing with the excessive imports of aluminum. The tariffs and quotas would vary from country to country, with the highest ones going to aluminum from China and Russian Federation, among other countries, and the highest steel tariffs on imports from countries including Brazil, China and Russian Federation.

The Commerce Department argues that growing imports of steel and aluminum - driven in part by overproduction in China - have so weakened America's producers that a future military mobilization could be at risk.

The report called for a 24 percent tariff on steel exported from all countries and higher tariffs on exports from 12 targeted countries: Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

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The U.S. administration has delivered a series of recommendations to President Donald Trump, and he must decide on a course of action by April. "And so what we're talking about is tariffs and or quotas".

Steel and aluminum are vital to the nation's security and to our crumbling roads, bridges and other infrastructure.

Already, there are reports that the European Union - one of the biggest exporters of steel to the United States - could retaliate with a tariff on United States agricultural goods. Trump take action based on the recommendations he receives, or he may opt not to take any action. Their excess capacity alone exceeds the total US steel-making capacity. Such measures would encourage steel and aluminum producers to come back to the USA, he said.

The options suggested include limiting all countries to steel exports equal to 63 per cent of their 2017 exports into the US, or a more severe quota for a smaller list of countries if Trump goes the more targeted route. The report recommends that a process be put in place to allow the Secretary to grant requests from USA companies to exclude specific products if the US lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations. "For example, there is only one remaining USA producer of the high-quality aluminum alloy needed for military aerospace".

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The department notes that employment in the aluminum industry fell by 58 percent between 2013 and 2016, while employment in the steel industry dropped 35 percent in the last 20 years.

"Aluminum used to make beer cans is not a national security threat".

The department suggests a variety of ways the United States could act to restrict imports.

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Over 50% tariffs on steel recommended to Trump