US President Trump threatens China with sanctions on trade imbalance

Big business to Trump Tariffs could backfire
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17 February, 2018

Ford Motor Co. and General Motors Co. declined after the U.S. Commerce Department recommended a crackdown on imported aluminum and steel, moves that could drive up the prices of raw materials for vehicles.

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., warned that import restrictions could also drive up prices for USA businesses that use steel and aluminum as well as for American consumers. The second was a 23.6 percent tariff on China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam, with all other countries subject to a quota equal to the amount they exported the United States in 2017.

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

"The DOC reports provide a comprehensive listing of the countries - Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam - that have relentlessly violated trade laws".

The president has until April 19 to decide whether to adopt one of three options, to modify an option or not to act on the 232 recommendations. He told those attending that quotas and tariffs are options on the table.

Some steel stocks were stronger in morning trade.

The U.S. aluminum industry helps manufacturers produce sustainable and innovative products, including more fuel-efficient vehicles, recyclable packaging, greener buildings and modern electronics.

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"With more than 150 antidumping and countervailing duties on the books, steel is one of the most heavily protected domestic industries", Packard said. Due to that threat, Ross recommended the president reduce imports through quotas or tariffs.

The aluminum recommendations include a 7.7% tariff on imports from all exporter nations. The President may take a range of actions, or no action, based on the analysis and recommendations provided in the reports.

The conservative group FreedomWorks blasted the recommendation, calling it a hidden tax on USA consumers. 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. Such measures would encourage steel and aluminum producers to come back to the USA, he said.

"In addition, at today's reduced military spending, military consumption of aluminum is a small percentage of total consumption and therefore is insufficient by itself to preserve the viability of the smelters", Commerce said.

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.

An aluminum quota of 86.7% of 2017 exports.


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