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Tariff winners and losers: US Steel spikes, Ford retreats

17 February 2018, 12:37 | Lionel James

The department recommended at least 24% tariff on steel products from all countries and 7% on all aluminium imports

The department recommended at least 24% tariff on steel products from all countries and 7% on all aluminium imports

The U.S. Commerce Department has recommended that President Donald Trump impose steep curbs on steel and aluminum imports from China and other nations ranging from global and country-specific tariffs to broad import quotas, according to proposals released on Friday.

On Friday, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross reported that steel is in fact important to USA national security and current import flows are adversely impacting the steel industry.

Ford sources 98 percent of the aluminum and 95 percent of the steel used for its domestic vehicle production from suppliers in the U.S. GM uses American steel and aluminum for "a vast majority" of its production, Tom Henderson, a spokesman, said in an email.

Any action to limit imports is likely to end up raising the price of steel, which could destabilize US industries from automakers to food packagers. Stepped-up foreign production of steel and aluminum, especially by China, has driven down prices and hurt American producers.

The United States is the world's largest importer of steel. The goal of the measures is to return each industry to a capacity utilization rate of approximately 80%, he said. He said, for example, that only one USA company now produces a high-quality aluminum alloy needed for military aircraft.

The United States has fired a warning shot in what could become a global trade war over steel and aluminum, threatening to impose a wide range of tariffs and quotas within several months on an undetermined number of countries. They are almost four times exports.

The recommendations followed investigations into the impact on national security from imports of steel mill products and wrought and unwrought aluminum, the department said in a statement.

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Trump said he was "considering all options", including tariffs and quotas, after he accused China of decimating the American steel and aluminium industries.

The tariffs and quotas would be in addition to any duties already in place. Commerce Secretary Ross noted that Section 232 remedies do not require "the same tariff on every single country".

Some U.S. companies will be able to request exclusions for specific products if the U.S. lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations, Ross added. Aluminum is vital to our national security.

From 2013 to 2016 aluminum industry employment fell by 58%, 6 smelters shut down, and only two of the remaining 5 smelters are operating at capacity, even though demand has grown considerably. As of February 15, 2018, the US had two antidumping and countervailing duty orders in place on aluminum, both against China, and there are four ongoing investigations against China.

"The ultimate decision rests with the president, the commerce secretary cautioned: "(Trump) will decide what he's going to do...

A tariff of 23.6% on all products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam.

-Impose a quota on steel and aluminum imports from everywhere, limiting each country 63 percent of the steel and 86.7 percent of the aluminum they shipped to the USA a year ago.



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