WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Commerce is recommending stiff tariffs on steel imports into the U.S., encouraging representatives of the domestic steel industry but alarming U.S. tire manufacturers dependent on imported tire-grade steel.
On Feb. 16, Commerce released reports on its investigations of how steel and aluminum imports are affecting national security.
The agency carried out the investigations under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which empowers the federal government imports of goods and materials that might threaten national security.
In its report on steel, Commerce found that the U.S. is the world's largest importer of steel, with steel imports outstripping exports by nearly four to one.
Worldwide excess capacity in steel is 700 million tons, nearly seven times annual U.S. steel consumption, the report said.
China alone produces nearly as much steel in a month as the U.S. does in a year, Commerce said. For certain types of steel, such as for electrical transformers, only one U.S. producer remains, it said.
Six basic oxygen furnaces and four electric furnaces have closed since 2000, and employment in the domestic steel industry has dropped 35 percent since 1998, according to the report.
It is now up to President Donald Trump to determine what actions should be taken. Commerce recommended three alternative remedies:
- A global tariff of at least 24 percent on all steel imports from all countries;
- A tariff of at least 53 percent on all steel imports from 12 countries — Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam — with a quota from all other countries equal to 100 percent of their 2017 exports to the U.S.; or
- A quota on all steel products from all countries equal to 63 percent of each country's 2017 exports to the U.S.