Economy

US Section 232 options justified, would not hurt downstream: Commerce

US Section 232 options justified, would not hurt downstream: Commerce

Sen. Roy Blunt, R-Mo., warned that import restrictions could also drive up prices for US businesses that use steel and aluminum as well as for American consumers. The report explains that China produces almost as much steel in one month than the USA does in a year.

As of February 15, the US had 169 antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place on steel, of which 29 are against China, and there are 25 ongoing investigations. China is by far the largest producer and exporter of steel, and the largest source of excess steel capacity.

Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president the power to restrict imports and impose unlimited tariffs if a Commerce Department investigation finds they threaten national security.

The United States is the world's largest importer of steel. The Commerce Department estimated that each of the recommendations could help increase domestic steel production from its current level of 73 percent capacity to 80 percent capacity. Such measures would encourage steel and aluminum producers to come back to the US, he said.

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.

The Commerce Department is recommending steep tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum.

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The steel and aluminum industries have been fixated on the cases for almost a year.

Trump was presented with reports last month following parallel "Section 232" investigations into whether import restrictions on steel and aluminum are needed to protect national security.

Companies can also seek appeals based on USA production of steel and aluminum and specific national security-based considerations.

During Trump's first year in office, the USA trade deficit grew by 12 percent. "Not only do we now have a steel surplus with Canada, but we share a border and have synergistic strategic, economic, and national security interests".

Aluminum imports have risen to 90% of total demand for primary aluminum, up from 66% in 2012. "It'll make a decision, and I will make a decision that reflects the best interests of the USA, including the need to address overproduction in China and other countries". As of February 15, 2018, the US had two antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place on aluminum, both against China, and there are four ongoing investigations against China.

China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam would be subject to the higher tariff on aluminum. He proposed a final alternative that involved no tariffs, but a quota on all steel products from all countries equal to 63 percent of their exports to the United States in 2017. Additionally, we are concerned that the secretary seems to have minimized the multiple concerns that downstream aluminum users have raised.


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