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The Cost Of Steel Tariffs

The Trump administration is talking tough tariffs on imported steel. Will that make America great again?

Candidate Donald Trump promised to bring back manufacturing jobs to make America great again. President Donald Trump may be about to slap big tariffs on imported steel to prove he’s delivering. And to do it saying the U.S. faces a national security threat from imports. Steel’s union boss is for it. He’s with us today. Critics warn of a quick path to trade war, higher prices – and maybe fewer jobs. Automakers are against it! This hour On Point: jobs, steel, and American trade. — Tom Ashbrook


Anna Swanson, reporter at the Washington Post, covering the economy and trade. (@AnaSwanson)

Chad Bown, senior fellow at the Peterson Institute for International Economics. Author of a policy paper earlier this month titled, “Will Trump Invoke National Security to Start a Trade War?” (@ChadBown)

Leo Gerard, international president of the United Steelworkers, North America’s largest manufacturing union.

From Tom’s Reading List

NBC News: Protecting the U.S. Steel Industry Could Come at Great Cost, Economists Warn — “Economists are steeling themselves for potential diplomatic and economic disruption if President Donald Trump makes good on his threats to impose barriers on steel imports to the United States. They warn of major ripple effects that these protectionist policies — whether they come in the form of tariffs, quotas or some combination of the two — would have, not just on America’s steel industry, but on the broader economy and trade infrastructure.”

Washington Post: Trump’s team is ready for a trade war over steel — “The Trump administration launched two separate investigations in April into whether imports of steel and aluminum compromise U.S. national security. Trump’s choice about what sort of protection to impose could be one of the most consequential economic decisions of his administration, as he has the ability to act unilaterally and does not need Congress’s approval.”

PIIE: Will Trump Invoke National Security to Start a Trade War? — “New restrictions would likely damage the US economy and lead to possible retaliation against US exports by trading partners. More troubling, other countries may seek to impose their own barriers under the banner of defending national security. New trade restrictions would hit Canada, Mexico, Germany, South Korea, and Japan more than China, which the Trump team has singled out for criticism on steel exports.”

Key Facts About Steel In The U.S.

  • The U.S. is the world’s largest steel importer, with 30.1 million metric tons in 2016.
  • The U.S. has seen 104 percent steel import growth since 2009.
  • Top three import sources for the U.S. are Canada, Brazil and South Korea.
  • The U.S. imports steel from over 110 countries and territories.
  • The largest steel producers in the U.S. are Nucor, U.S. Steel and ArcelorMittal USA
  • Between 2009 and 2016, U.S. crude steel production grew by 32 percent, while apparent consumption increased by 53 percent.

Source: U.S. Department of Commerce, International Trade Administration March 2017 Steel Imports Report.

U.S. Imports Of Steel Mill Products In 2016

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(Data Source: Global Trade Atlas; Copyright © IHS Global Inc. 2017, via U.S. Department of Commerce)
(Data Source: Global Trade Atlas; Copyright © IHS Global Inc. 2017, via U.S. Department of Commerce)