US President Donald Trump announced on Thursday March 1 that he will impose tariffs of 25% on steel imports and 10% on aluminium imports into the US for an unlimited time frame, following through on the aggressive action the White House has hinted at since the initiation of Section 232 investigations nearly a year ago.
"When it comes to a time when our country can’t make much aluminium or steel, you don’t have much of a country," Trump said during the meeting.
The announcement follows US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross' February release of his department's recommendations to the president. The Commerce Department recommendations called for blanket tariffs; tariffs on select countries with quotas on others; or a quota for all steel and aluminium imports. Trump had until April to decide a course of action in the steel and aluminium investigations.
The steel and aluminium markets have seen rising prices as a result of the recommendations, with prevailing speculation having Trump opting for strong remedies over measured approaches. Before the president's comments Thursday afternoon, he voiced his opinion on Twitter.
“Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world,” Trump said in the tweet. “We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!”
Section 232 investigations into the effects of steel and aluminium imports on national security were initiated by the White House in April. Upstream producers hailed the benefit of such a protectionist move, while downstream market participants bemoaned the effect potential action could have on their businesses.