Published: Wed, February 14, 2018

Trump Tells Lawmakers He's Mulling Limits on Imported Steel

Trump Tells Lawmakers He's Mulling Limits on Imported Steel

President Donald Trump on Tuesday told members of Congress he is still considering whether to impose restrictions on steel and aluminum imports that may be threatening USA national security, but lawmakers repeatedly warned him against sweeping action that may anger crucial trading partners.

The commerce ministry said it had found dumping of styrene imports from the US, Taiwan and South Korea, in an initial ruling during a continuing trade investigation into the chemical.

The number of trade investigations, which often lead to tariffs on other countries' products, rose 81% in the first 12 months of Trump's presidency, according to a Commerce Department investigation announced Tuesday.

He has another two months to decide on possible retaliatory action, but strongly indicated that he is leaning toward hitting back at Beijing.

Experts believe any U.S. sanctions would prompt China to respond with sanctions of its own, raising the specter of a trade war between the world's two largest economies.

China produces around half of the world's steel but stands accused of "dumping" cheap steel on global markets to gain market share. "We need to do the value-added things", he said.

Republican Senator Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania cautioned that it would be hard for Trump to justify a national security ruling when defense products consume only 3 percent of domestic steel output.

A bipartisan group of lawmakers met President Trump at the White House to talk about the nation's steel and aluminum industries.

Senator Rob Portman, an Ohio Republican who attended the meeting and is a former U.S. Trade Representative, said afterward that he had recommended Trump take a "scalpel" approach to steel imports, penalizing only certain products such as electrical steel. "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".

"If we ever have a conflict we don't want to be buying steel for a country we are fighting".

That is also true for relations with South Korea, which are already strained over Trump's saber rattling over North Korea's nuclear programme.

He pulled the United States out of a vast trans-Pacific trade deal and is renegotiating NAFTA - a free trade accord between the United States, Canada and Mexico. "For us it produced nothing but losses".

U.S. President Donald Trump expressed willingness Monday to impose "a reciprocal tax" against countries having a trade surplus with the United States, including allies such as Japan.

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