MUST WATCH: President Donald Trump Signs MASSIVE Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum at the White House
WHITE HOUSE — U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday signed companion proclamations slapping 25 percent tariffs on steel coming into the country and 10 percent tariffs on imported aluminum.
The across-the-board taxes are to go into effect in 15 days.
Amid fears that his action would ignite a trade war, Trump declared the dumping of steel and aluminum in the United States as “an assault on our country,” suggesting foreign producers relocate their facilities to America.
“If you don’t want to pay tax, bring your plant to the USA,” he said.
Trump was flanked in the Roosevelt Room by workers from those metals industries, some with hard hats in hand, as he signed the documents. Vice President Mike Pence, Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, and Trade and Industrial Policy Director Peter Navarro were also among those in the room.
After an outcry from lawmakers, some industry executives and foreign governments, Canada and Mexico are being given specific exemptions from the tariffs for an indefinite period while negotiations continue on the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
“We’re giving Canada and Mexico sufficient time to address these issues at the request of the governments, but it’s not open-ended,” said a senior U.S. administration official. “The focus is on the broader security relationship, where we can address ensuring national security and eliminate any impairment whatsoever.”
Other countries which are considered allies of the United States — such as Australia — will also be given “satisfactory alternative means to address the threat” the Trump administration perceives to American steel and aluminum manufacturers, the official said.
“This is not a softening of our position in any way whatsoever,” insisted the administration official in a call with reporters that was conducted on the condition of not being named.
Opponents of Trump’s action see it as undermining the rules-based global trading system and using national security disguised as protectionism that will encourage other countries to resort to the same premise to protect their domestic markets.
The White House official rejected that argument Thursday, contending that the United States “is the freest-trading nation in the world” and arguing that the rules-based trading system, under the 23-year-old World Trade Organization with 164 member states, “is not working very well for the American people.”
Trump signed the proclamations just hours after 11 other countries formalized a revised agreement in Chile that reduces tariffs and cuts trade barriers among the member countries.
Known as the Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement (CPTPP), it replaces the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) from which Trump withdrew the United States. (more)