Trump launches trade probe targeting Chinese steel
Ross said Thursday that the Commerce Department plans to launch an investigation into whether or not foreign steel companies, particularly those from China, are dumping steel on the US market. "The problem with those anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases is they're very, very limited in nature to a very, very specific product from a very, very specific country", he said without naming any country.
He said if the USA steel industry is deemed to be suffering from too much steel imports, he will recommend retaliatory steps that could include tariffs.
Trump stressed the concerns go beyond the impact on the US economy.
USA steel prices could extend their recent rally if new trade regulations are implemented on steel imports into the US.
Ross noted that steel imports are up almost 20% so far this year and that foreign steel now makes up more than a quarter of the entire US market.
Newport, U.S. Steel chief Mario Longhi and several other steel CEOs met with Trump at the White House on Thursday to discuss the state of the industry and the administration's plans to crack down on steel dumping.
Trump called it a "historic day for American steel", saying it is not an area where the United States can depend on foreign countries for imports. He, too, ascribed the steel market "crisis" to China's excess capacity, and said "we welcome the administration's efforts to aggressively address this problem".
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".
The president said his administration would "fight for American workers and American-made steel, and that's beginning immediately".
The Commerce Department will have 270 days to complete the probe.
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.
Executives from US steelmakers, who support the review, stood behind Trump as he signed a memo directing Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross to return recommendations in the "very, very near" future.
"Then-candidate Trump, a quote from him, "Foreign nations are dumping vast amounts of steel all over the United States, which essentially is killing our steel workers and steel companies". Trump's campaign promises to develop infrastructure and require the use of American made materials boosted demand expectations for American steel.
Ross said that unhindered the present situation could undermine the ability of American steel producers to continue investment, research and development, and reduce or eliminate the jobs needed to "maintain a pool of skilled workers essential for the continued development of advanced steel manufacturing". That would force up their prices and make domestic steel prices competitive, enabling closed mills to reopen and rehire.
China is responsible for about 45 per cent of global steel production, followed by Japan and India, two other commodity export markets for Australia. Furthermore, the company is also the sole remaining producer of electrical steel in America.
The Section 232 investigation could result in a recommendation that covers all steel imports, Ross said. Trump said that could be as soon as 30 to 50 days.