Trump Orders Probe into Whether Steel Imports Harming US

April 20, 2017 07:29 PM

Another step towards leveling the playing field for the steel industry, according to leaders from the industry itself.

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President Donald Trump is directing the administration to investigate whether steel imports are jeopardizing U.S. national security.

In the Oval Office on Thursday, Trump signed a memo ordering the investigation while surrounded by executives from U.S. steelmakers. He said he doesn't want to see any more steel mills closed.

"We are going to fight for American workers and American-made steel. And that's beginning immediately," Trump said.

A 1960s trade law gives the president authority to restrict imports if they are determined to be harmful to U.S. security interests. The law requires that the investigation be concluded within 270 days. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross says the timeline will be expedited.

The President of the American Iron and Steel Institute, Tom Gibson, told reporters afterwards, "It remains an extraordinary time in the steel industry. Record levels of imports in the United States, and much are unfairly traded and subsidized. It's time to look at an extraordinary remedy, and section 232 is that."

According to the Belgium-based World Steel Association, American-made steel once accounted for roughly 20 percent of global production, but had slipped to less than 5 percent by 2015.

China made up less than 3 percent of U.S. steel imports.

U.S. Steel sent a statement: "A strong steel industry is at the foundation of America's economic and national security, and United States Steel Corporation is pleased that President Trump is initiating a Section 232 national security investigation by the Commerce Department." 

"For too long, China and other nations have been conducting economic warfare against the American steel industry by subsidizing their steel industries, distorting global markets, and dumping excess steel into the United States. The effects have been staggering. Tens of thousands of workers in the American steel industry, the industry's supply chain and the communities in which our industry operates have lost their jobs due to unfair and illegal practices by foreign producers. We have offered the Commerce Department our full cooperation during its investigation." 

Their CEO, Mario Longi, was at the White House. 

Congressman Rick Nolan sent a statement that said he was expressing cautious support for the executive order.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.



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