U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Friday urged President Donald Trump to impose steep tariffs on China and other steel-producing countries, contending they are illegally dumping steel into U.S. markets.
In a 262-page report that was praised by many Ohio lawmakers, Ross charged that imported steel products are priced “substantially lower” than steel produced in the United States and declared that the United States is now the largest importer of steel in the world.
Ross urged the White House either to impose tariffs as high as 53 percent on China, Russia, South Korea and nine other steel producing countries or levy a 24-percent tariff on imported steel from any country.
“Excessive steel imports have adversely impacted the steel industry,” Ross wrote, adding that “numerous U.S. steel mill closures, a substantial decline in employment, lost domestic sales and market share, and marginal annual net income for U.S.-based steel companies illustrate the decline of the U.S. steel industry.”
The administration launched an investigation into steel dumping last year and Trump has 90 days to levy the tariffs. But new tariffs will harm consumers because they would pay higher prices for products which use steel, such as cars and trucks.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, praised Ross’s report, but said “Ohio steelworkers don’t need a report to tell them they are losing jobs to Chinese cheating.”
“More important than releasing the findings of this report is taking swift and tough action that provides real, long-lasting relief for our steel industry, which is facing an onslaught of imports as we wait for a decision,” Brown said.
Emily Benavides, a spokesman for Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said Portman “looks forward to reviewing the Commerce Department’s recommendations.”
“He believes we should work together to protect American jobs and hold our trading partners accountable when they cheat,” she said. “And he continues to believe the administration should move quickly to make a final decision on this investigation.”