U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said he expects President Donald Trump to take a thoughtful approach to deciding on possible restrictions for steel and aluminum imports.
Ross’s department last week publicly released a range of options, including steep global tariffs, to limit imports of the metal after finding that foreign-made steel and aluminum pose a risk to national security. Trump has to make a decision on those recommendations for steel imports by April 11 and on aluminum by April 19. Ross has previously said he expects Trump to take a “surgical approach” to any restrictions.
“I’m sure he will do it in a very thoughtful and systematic way,” Ross said in an interview on CNBC on Thursday. “I have no idea when between now and then he will make his decision.”
Commerce’s range of recommendations included a 24 percent global steel tariff or a 53 percent charge on steel from a dozen nations, while capping other countries at 2017 import levels. It also proposed a 7.7 percent tariff on aluminum imports, or a 23.6 percent charge on aluminum from five places including China and Russia, while limiting other countries at last year’s import levels.
The news last week sent shares of American metals producers surging while stocks declined for U.S. consumers of the metal, like automotive makers.
While China was identified as the main target of restrictions to stop it from dumping the metals on the global market, the curbs would have a limited impact, Moody’s Investors Service said in an note. For China, direct exports to the U.S. accounted for only 0.1 percent of nationwide output between January and September last year, it said.
Trump could also decide against taking any action on imports of the metal or enter into talks with foreign producers to find a solution.
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