At noon, Donald Trump will sign an executive order calling for a probe whether imports of foreign-made steel are hurting U.S. national security. The order will revive a decades-old, rarely used law to explore imposing new barriers on steel imports, in this case aimed loosely at China.
Trump will sign the memorandum related to section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 at an event in the White House that will include leadersd of several U.S. steel companies; the law will allow the president to impose restrictions on imports for reasons of national security. Trump’s directive will ask Ross to conduct the probe “with all deliberate speed and deliver the results to the president with his recommendations.”
An official cited by Reuters sad that there are national security implications from imports of steel alloys that are used in products such as the armor plating of ships and require a lot of expertise to create and produce.
The move is another step in Trump’s “America First” policies in which he has tried to boost U.S. manufacturers and preserve American jobs. It comes as he tries to coax China into taking a more active role in reining in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
While an official said that the directive is not aimed at a specific country but is “product oriented”, in recent years the US has seen a substantial increase in imports of Steel and related products from China, which has been dumping its exports around the globe, although in recent months has been either warehousing the product domestically, or using it as part of the latest housing bubble.
As the WSJ adds, the U.S. government hasn’t used the law to impose penalties since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995, which discourages such unilateral sanctions. The law was most famously used by President Richard Nixon in 1971 to impose an across-the-board 10% import surcharge to contain the U.S. trade deficit at the time.
The planned ceremony follows a Trump rally Tuesday at Wisconsin tool factory where he ordered aides to craft new policies increasing “Buy American” provisions for government procurement spending. In the speech unveiling the action, he blasted the WTO as “another one of our disasters,” and vowed to accelerate acting on his campaign promises to rewrite American trade policy.