The public now has the findings, but it's up to the president to act.
The Commerce Department on Friday released the findings of its Section 232 national security investigations into steel and aluminum imports. But still no word on what President Trump will do with its recommendations.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on a call said the report indeed discovered security threats. Ross noted that as global overcapacity has risen and imports in both sectors have captured larger shares of the American market, layoffs have increased and American capacity to produce military-grade steel and aluminum has been weakened. There is only a single remaining aluminum smelter, for example, capable of producing the quality of aluminum required for key defense platforms like jet fighters.
Ross laid out recommendations to address surges in both steel and aluminum imports.
For steel, they are:
- A global tariff of at least 24 percent on all steel imports from all countries, or
- A tariff of at least 53 percent on all steel imports from 12 countries (Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam) with a quota by product on steel imports from all other countries equal to 100 percent of their 2017 exports to the United States, or
- A quota on all steel products from all countries equal to 63 percent of each country’s 2017 exports to the United States.
For aluminum, they are:
- A tariff of at least 7.7 percent on all aluminum exports from all countries, or
- A tariff of 23.6 percent on all products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam. All the other countries would be subject to quotas equal to 100 percent of their 2017 exports to the United States, or
- A quota on all imports from all countries equal to a maximum of 86.7 percent of their 2017 exports to the United States.
It’s up to President Trump to take the next step and decide what to do with the investigation findings and recommendations. Ross, in a release, kept the administration’s options open and vague. “I look forward to (Trump’s) decision on any potential course of action,” he said.
AAM President Scott Paul pushed the president to hustle up:
"Trump is one step away from taking historic action to defend American jobs and security.
“We believe the action must be broad, robust and comprehensive - and the Commerce Department report makes a compelling case for immediate action.
“Any exclusions deserve appropriate scrutiny. Otherwise, the Washington swamp will be filled with importers trying to undermine American jobs.
“American workers are counting on President Trump to stand up for them.”
For a refresher, here's a little history behind the Section 232 investigations, with some insight from steelworkers from across the country about why swift, comprehensive action is needed: