Amid speculation that Trump might have been ready to officially sign stiff tariffs on imported steel and aluminum this week, the US president said Thursday the move will have to wait until next week, but he promised they are coming.
The world has been waiting anxiously for Trump’s final say on recommendations for action on foreign-made steel and aluminum, released by the Commerce Department two weeks ago, which seek to increase domestic production to a minimum operating rate “needed for the long-term viability of the industry.”
The President said that he has decided on tariffs of 25% for imported steel and 10% for aluminum, higher than the rates of 24% and 7.7%, respectively, recommended by the Commerce Department.
“We’ll be signing it next week. And you’ll have protection for a long time in a while,” the president was quoted by The Washington Post as saying. “You’ll have to regrow your industries, that’s all I’m asking.”
Trump’s comments come as Chinese President Xi Jinping’s top economic advisor Liu He is in Washington to discuss trade. The Commerce Department announced a decision to slap tariffs on Chinese aluminum foil on Tuesday, the day Liu arrived.
Following the announcement on aluminum foil, China’s Commerce Ministry pushed back on the assertion that US industry has been treated unfairly.
“The US aluminum industry twenty years ago had already withdrawn of their own free will from low value-added aluminum manufacturing, shifting to more profitable aluminum products,” Wang Hejun, head of the ministry’s trade remedy department said in a statement.
“For this reason the drop in US aluminum production volume and its market share was the choice of the US industry itself, not the result of imports,” Wang went on.
“The US’s unreasonable and excessive use of trade remedy measures not only will not bring about the US aluminum industry’s ‘rejuvenation,’ it will also influence domestic employment and harm the welfare of the consumer.”