President Donald Trump's plan for tariffs on imported steel and aluminum is about preserving the nation's national and economic security through saving the industries, White House Trade Council Director Peter Navarro said Monday.
"We have imports coming in across the globe threatening those two industries," Navarro told Fox News' "Fox & Friends" program.
"As the president said, we can't have a country without aluminum steel industry."
Since 2013, the nation has lost six aluminum smelters, Navarro pointed out. Out of the five remaining smelters nationally, only two are working at full capacity and just one is left that processes high purity aluminum for defense purposes.
"If we lose that, we have to rely on China and some countries in the Middle East," said Navarro. "That is untenable. The question is, do we want to save those industries? The president says yes."
Navarro also said Monday that there will be "virtually no costs" or "downstream price impact" from the tariffs, which would total 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum.
The aluminum tariff, for example would add a "cent-and-a half" to the cost of a beer can, said Navarro, echoing comments made last Friday by Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross.
"We need to look at the chessboard and say, do you want a steel industry and aluminum industry?" said Navarro.
Trump Monday morning tweeted tied tariffs to a new NAFTA agreement, while targeting Canada for not treating U.S. farmers better and Mexico for allowing too many drugs to flow across the border.
Navarro agreed that if a "great NAFTA agreement is reached," that would be good for the American people, but meanwhile, there will be the tariffs, with "no cuts or exclusions; a firm line in the sand."
He also downplayed comments on Sunday from Josh Bolten, former chief of staff under President George W. Bush, who said Navarro is "betting the jobs" of Americans who depend on export markets over his belief that the tariffs would not result in retaliation from other countries.
"Everybody in the swamp is rising up against it ... the president has said quite clearly, and quite correctly, that these countries around the world are running huge trade surpluses with us," he said.
"We are shifting our wealth offshore. They are taking our jobs and factories. All we are trying to do with our trade policy is get a level playing field."
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