Trump Orders Probe Into Whether Steel Imports Harming US

U.S. President Donald Trump walks from Marine One as he returns from a day trip to Wisconsin on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington

U.S. President Donald Trump walks from Marine One as he returns from a day trip to Wisconsin on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington

Today, the President signed a Presidential Memorandum prioritizing an investigation initiated by the Secretary of Commerce into whether steel imports threaten to impair the national security.

Ross argued that China is not acting in good faith to cut back on exports.

"If the U.S. severely punished the Chinese steel industry, which is absolutely warranted on economic grounds for China dumping overcapacity on the world market for 15 years, how are they going to affect the demand for Australian iron ore?"

In an unusual move, U.S. Steel filed its complaint under a statute covering unfair trade practices, which most often is used to protect domestic companies from patent infringement and theft of intellectual property.

Ross said the USA had placed more than 150 antidumping and duty orders on steel products, but they had "not substantially alleviated the negative effects that unfairly traded imports have had on the United States steel industry".

News of the move triggered a rally for steel stocks, including Steel Dynamics Inc, AK Steel, U.S. Steel, Nucor, Cliffs Natural Resources, and Allegheny Technologies.

During the signing, Trump was asked how the policy would affect US dealings with China on North Korea, to which he responded: "This has nothing to do with China".

"If President Trump is serious about strengthening Buy American and delivering on his pledges to create more American manufacturing jobs, he could immediately withdraw with 60 days written notice from World Trade Organization procurement rules with no penalty and invoke his executive authority to reverse all 59 trade pact Buy American waivers", said Lori Wallach, president of Public Citizen's Global Trade Watch.

Whether or not tariffs or other protectionist measures will actually boost any of these industries remains to be seen.

"The hundreds of thousands of workers and communities in America who depend upon the steel industry deserve real enforcement of our laws to hold bad actors accountable", she said.

A 1962 trade law that gives the president authority to restrict imports and impose tariffs if they are determined to harming US security interests outlines 270 days for such investigations. "The dumping problem is a worldwide problem", Trump said.

"This is not an area where we can afford to become dependent on foreign countries", Mr Trump said.

At an Oval Office ceremony, surrounded by USA steel executives, Trump signed an executive order calling for the commerce department to assess affects of steel imports on U.S. defense at a time when he has ordered a military build-up.

China is responsible for about 45 per cent of global steel production, followed by Japan and India, two other commodity export markets for Australia.

At the signing, Trump said: "Steel is critical to both our economy and our military".

"But the Department of Defense only consumes a small portion of domestic steel output, and this has decreased over the past decade as composites technology has advanced", Bialos said. Trump won many votes in industrial Midwestern states like MI and Pennsylvania with a pledge to boost manufacturing and crack down on Chinese trade practices. "The effects have been staggering", a U.S. Steel statement said.

Ross said under the statute, the investigation needs to be completed within 270 days. The 30-member Congressional Steel Caucus sent a letter saying "we assure you we will be carefully watching the progress of this case", while a bipartisan letter from 47 members of Congress said they "strongly urge" the commission "to ensure that U.S. Steel is permitted to present its case in full".

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