Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross suggested three options for Trump on steel and aluminum - impose an across-the-board tariff, target select countries with even higher tariffs, or limit the amount of steel and aluminum that comes into the United States.
If the president accepts any of the recommendations from the Commerce Department's report on aluminum imports, it will dramatically increase the cost of aluminum in the USA and put at risk American jobs in the beer industry, as well other industries that are users of aluminum.
The targeted quota would include a quota by product on steel imports from other countries that would be equal to 100 percent of their 2017 exports to the US, according to the report.
The report found that USA reliance on foreign-produced steel and aluminum, which is often government subsidized, could compromise national security because those products have crucial military uses.
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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Trump has until around April 11 to decide whether to impose steel import curbs and April 20 to decide on aluminum restrictions. "And so what we're talking about is tariffs and or quotas".
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The aluminum recommendations include a 7.7% tariff on imports from all exporter nations. Although Trump campaigned on a protectionist platform, he has taken only modest action so far to restrict imports. The third alternative was a quota on all imports from all countries of up to 86.7 percent of their 2017 exports to the United States.
The recommendations followed investigations into the impact on national security from imports of steel mill products and wrought and unwrought aluminum, the department said in a statement. For certain types of steel, such as for electrical transformers, only one US producer remains. "For certain types of steel, such as for electrical transformers, only one US producer remains", the release stated. More than two dozen US steel and steel-related companies and associations wrote Trump a letter on February 2 urging "strong action" to support domestic steel. America now imports 90 percent of its primary aluminum. "For example, there is only one remaining U.S. producer of the high-quality aluminum alloy needed for military aerospace". The report explains that China produces almost as much steel in one month than the USA does in a year. Employment in the steel industry has declined by 35 percent since 1998. All others would be subject to quotas equal to their 2017 exports to the United States.