Tariff Talk Pushed United States Steel Corporation's Shares 16.5% Higher Today

US officials recommend tariffs or quotas on steel, aluminium imports

The Commerce Department recommended the administration slap tariffs on steel and aluminum imported to the US after a lengthy investigation into the products' impact on national security.

X In a briefing with reporters on Friday over the results of his department's investigation, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross proposed a 24% global tariff on steel shipments coming into the USA and a 7.7% duty on aluminum imports. The second was a 23.6 percent tariff on China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam, with all other countries subject to a quota equal to the amount they exported the United States in 2017.

Trump was presented with reports last month following parallel "Section 232" investigations into whether import restrictions on steel and aluminum are needed to protect national security. The Commerce Department recommended a tariff of at least 24 percent on steel imports from all countries or a 53 percent tariff on steel imports from 12 countries, including Brazil, China, Russia and Turkey.

"We can not be without a steel industry", President Trump said Monday during a White House meeting with lawmakers. U.S. Steel and AK Steel spiked 10%, while Alcoa rallied 3% and Century Aluminum climbed 7%. "If we ever have a conflict, we don't want to be buying the steel from a country that we're fighting because somehow that doesn't work very well".

In a statement in response to the Commerce report, the group continued to stress that it believes any action should address Chinese overcapacity, not interfere with trading relationships between the United States and countries such as Canada and the European Union, and avoid unintended consequences for U.S. production and jobs, including for the downstream industry. Although Trump campaigned on a protectionist platform, he has taken only modest action so far to restrict imports.

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Ross said excessive steel and aluminum imports "threaten to impair the national security", in a 262-page investigative report released Friday. "Alternatively, MEMA would recommend that the Administration implement a robust exemption or exclusion process that would allow industry representatives, like trade associations, to apply for exemptions on behalf of multiple member companies, and that those exemptions go into effect before any tariff is imposed".

The reports recommend that Ross be allowed to grant requests from US companies to exclude specific products if the USA lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations.

At today's reduced military spending, military consumption of aluminum is a small percentage of total consumption and therefore is insufficient by itself to preserve the viability of the smelters.

"Aluminum used to make beer cans is not a national security threat". According to the latest industry data, Chinese primary aluminum capacity grew by 9 percent in 2017 while capacity in the rest of the world declined by about 0.5 percent.

A quota on all imports from all countries equal to a maximum of 86.7% of their 2017 exports to the United States.

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