Commerce Department Urges Crackdown On Imported Steel And Aluminum

The Commerce Department on Friday recommended imposing heavy tariffs or quotas on foreign producers of steel and aluminum in the interest of national security, following a trade investigation of imports.

X In a briefing with reporters on Friday over the results of his department's investigation, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross proposed a 24% global tariff on steel shipments coming into the US and a 7.7% duty on aluminum imports.

The report also recommends similar restrictions on aluminum imports with options of a 7.7% tariff on global imports; a 23.6% tariff on China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam with a quota; or a quota for all countries equaling 86.7% of their 2017 exports to the US.

The Commerce Department's investigation links steel imports to the USA steel industry's struggles.

The 12 countries are Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam.

Trump is required to make a decision on steel by April 11 and on aluminum by April 19. Any exclusions granted could result in changed tariffs or quotas for the remaining products to maintain the overall effect.

The Administration is reportedly nearing a decision on whether or not to restrict steel and aluminum imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Those measures, which could be announced in the following weeks, are aimed at saving US steel and aluminum producers, who have struggled to compete with a flood of cheap metals from overseas, particularly from China.

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The reports are now under consideration by the President, and no final decisions have been made with regard to their contents. The investigation sought to determine whether the imports posed a threat to the country's national security.

Aluminum stocks also bounced, led by an 8% jump for Century Aluminum.

Ross said each of the measures should enable USA steel producers to operate at 80% average capacity utilization rates or better based on available capacity in 2017. Trump take action based on the recommendations he receives, or he may opt not to take any action.

"With more than 150 antidumping and countervailing duties on the books, steel is one of the most heavily protected domestic industries", Packard said.

The recommendations could boost the US steel industry.

The 10-month investigation determined that the quantities and circumstance of steel and aluminum imports "threaten to impair the national security". And only one company in the country produces the high-quality aluminum alloy used for military aerospace purposes. According to the latest industry data, Chinese primary aluminum capacity grew by 9 percent in 2017 while capacity in the rest of the world declined by about 0.5 percent.


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