US President Trump threatens China with sanctions on trade imbalance


Today, Secretary Wilbur Ross released reports on the U.S. Department of Commerce's investigations into the impact on our national security from imports of steel mill products and from imports of wrought and unwrought aluminum.

"We look forward to working with the president on a final decision that helps support continued growth in the USA aluminum industry", said Heidi Brock, President & CEO of the Aluminum Association.

For aluminum, Ross recommended a tariff of 7.7% on imports from all countries, or a tariff of 23.6% on imports from five specific aluminum exporters, again including China and Russian Federation.

One option would see the US impose a 24 per cent tariff on steel imports from everywhere - including Canada.

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

Trump has until around April 11 to decide whether to impose steel import curbs and April 20 to decide on aluminium restrictions. He told those attending that quotas and tariffs are options on the table.

"We make aluminum and we make steel in Missouri, but we buy a lot of aluminum and we buy a lot of steel as well, from bass boats to beer cans", Blunt said.

Trump met with a bipartisan group of US senators and representatives at the White House last week, signaling he would take at least some action to restrict imports of the two metals.

Aluminum stocks also bounced, led by an 8% jump for Century Aluminum. The President may take a range of actions, or no action, based on the analysis and recommendations provided in the reports. U.S. Steel (X) advanced 10%, the most since November. Our imports are almost four times our exports.

The European Union's trade surplus with the U.S. widened by 6.8 percent over the past year despite threats of a trade war from U.S. President Donald Trump, who has branded the relationship between the two regions as unfair. "We can not be without an aluminum industry".

The investigations were carried out under a 1962 law authorizing the administration to assess domestic production of material needed for national defense, the domestic industry's capacity to meet those requirements and the "close relation of national economic welfare to USA national security".

Senator Pat Toomey cautioned the president to proceed cautiously under Section 232 for national security reasons, arguing that US defense needs account for only about 3 percent of domestic steel consumption. And only one company in the country produces the high-quality aluminum alloy used for military aerospace purposes. "Infrastructure, which is necessary for our economic security, is a major use of aluminum".

From 2013 to 2016 aluminum industry employment fell by 58%, 6 smelters shut down, and only two of the remaining 5 smelters are operating at capacity, even though demand has grown considerably.

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

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