The president was set to make the announcement today during a meeting with CEOs from U.S. aluminum and steel companies, but the date was pushed back due to resistance from tariff opponents, which include the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the Business Roundtable, The Washington Post reported.
The U.S. Department of Commerce recommended the tariffs last Friday, saying that foreign imports of aluminum and steel pose a risk to national security. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told Trump that foreign over-production of aluminum and steel was forcing prices down and threatening the shutdown of U.S. factories.
Six aluminum smelters have been forced to shut down in recent years and employment in aluminum production fell 58 percent between 2015 and 2016
The Commerce Department called on Trump to take action under a U.S. trade law that enables the president to authorize tariffs on imports that imperil national security.
Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world. We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 1, 2018
On the campaign trail and after becoming president, Trump promised to bring jobs back to the United States. The president has already imposed tariffs on washing machines and solar panels. A steel and aluminum tariff, once imposed, would be his most consequential yet.
“This is potentially a significant step,” Scott N. Paul of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, which is backed by steelmakers and the steelworkers union, told The Post. “Now it’s in the president’s hands. It’s time for him to deliver on his promise.”
Reuters reported on Tuesday that China dumped heavily subsidized aluminum on the U.S. market. This means that the Chinese communist regime is reimbursing its steel and aluminum manufacturers while they price their commodities below their fair value in the United States.
China has expressed “strong dissatisfaction” with the forthcoming measures on Chinese aluminum foil, the communist regime’s Ministry of Commerce said in a statement on Wednesday.
In 2016, imports of aluminum foil from China were valued at an estimated $389 million, Commerce Department figures show.
“This Administration is committed to trade that is fair and reciprocal, and we will not allow American workers and businesses to be harmed by unfair imports,” Ross said in a statement.
Last month, a group of U.S. aluminum foil producers told the ITC their industry had been devastated by Chinese imports and needed anti-dumping duties to survive and invest.
“The Aluminum Association and its foil-producing members are extremely pleased with the Commerce Department’s final determinations,” the group’s president, Heidi Brock, said in the statement.
“U.S. aluminum foil producers are among the most competitive producers in the world, but they cannot compete against products that are sold at unfairly low prices and subsidized by the Government of China,” Brock added.
Reuters contributed to this report.