Accessibility links

Breaking News

Trump Threatens Trade Action on Steel, Aluminum Imports

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with lawmakers about trade policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington.

U.S. President Donald Trump says he is considering tariffs, quotas, and retaliatory taxes on imports of steel and aluminum from countries such as China, Japan, and South Korea.

The comments came during a wide-ranging trade discussion Tuesday between Trump and a bipartisan group of lawmakers at the White House.

The president said U.S. steel and aluminum industries are being "decimated" by the "dumping" of cheap imports of those materials into U.S. markets.

FILE - Entrance to idled U.S. Steel Corp steelmaking operations in Granite City, Illinois, U.S.
FILE - Entrance to idled U.S. Steel Corp steelmaking operations in Granite City, Illinois, U.S.

Trump has long threatened what he calls "reciprocal" trade action to deal with steel, aluminum, and other imports.

But he has so far avoided taking any major steps, ostensibly out of fear of hurting the country's strong economic performance since he took office.

Several lawmakers on Tuesday urged Trump to be cautious when considering retaliatory trade steps, saying such measures could spark a trade war that leads to higher prices for U.S. producers and consumers.

"It's very, very much a double-edged sword," Trump conceded.

"I want to keep prices down, but I also want to make sure that we have a steel industry and an aluminum industry," he added.

The Trump administration is currently renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), as well as the U.S.-Korea Free Trade Agreement with South Korea.

Trump called the U.S.-South Korea deal "very, very bad" and "horrible." He also said Canada has "treated us very, very unfairly."

Last month, the U.S. Commerce Department sent a so-called "232 report" to the White House, examining the national security impacts of steel and aluminum imports, and giving Trump 90 days to impose quotas or tariffs.

Under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, the president can initiate a probe to determine if imports threaten national security.

"It's about our economy," Vice President Mike Pence during the meeting. "It's about our national security."

Trade was a major topic for Trump during the presidential campaignhe vowed to impose a 45 percent tax on Chinese imports and a 35 percent tax on Mexican imports.

But as president Trump has not followed through on those and other trade threats.

VOA White House correspondent Steve Herman contributed to this report.