Trump administration launches national security investigation into steel imports


President Donald Trump moved on Thursday against China and other exporters of cheap steel into the US market, launching a federal investigation to determine whether foreign-made steel threatens USA steelmakers and national security.

After signing a memorandum Thursday ordering an investigation into foreign steel coming into USA markets, President Donald Trump joked about whom he should give the pen to: "To labor or to steel?" he asked to laughter in the Oval Office.

He said the Commerce Department probe could be completed within 50 days, far quicker than the 270 days allotted under the law. He called the low priced steel flooding US markets a "worldwide problem", but seemed to deviate from his prepared remarks to take a shot at Canada and the North American Free Trade Agreement, which he said was devastating farming and other industries around the Great Lakes.

"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".

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President Donald Trump's bid to stanch imports flowing into the USA steel market is fighting strong currents: Domestic prices that are among the world's highest and a buoyant dollar that pushes down the cost of imports.

"Hopefully, this executive order will give us the tools we need to grow our companies back and put people back to work".

"From now on, we're going to stand up for American jobs, workers, their security, and for American steel companies and companies generally", he said.

"The artificially low prices caused by excess capacity and unfairly traded imports suppress profits in the American steel industry", the administration said in a statement.

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China produced over 808 million metric tons of crude steel in 2016, far ahead of the next closest, Japan, which produced almost 105 million metric tons, according to the "Monthly crude steel production 2016 " report from the World Steel Association.

Ross cast the decision to initiate the probe as a response to Chinese exports of steel into the United States reaching the point where they now account for 26 percent of the USA market.

In 2001, the Commerce Department found no evidence of a threat after it examined potential national security risks from importing semi-finished steel. AK SteelAK Steel AK Steel is a leading producer of flat-rolled carbon, stainless and electrical steel products, and carbon and stainless tubular products, primarily for automotive, infrastructure and manufacturing, electrical power generation and distribution markets.

Trump denied the step targeted China, which he had previously accused of being a currency "manipulator" before reversing course this month when calculations on reining in North Korea took precedence. "The dumping problem is a worldwide problem". While his push to force the use of American sourced materials has met some challenges, he is moving forward with cracking down on unfair trading, and that could propel steel prices even higher. This has to do with worldwide, what's happening.

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The president suggested that his promise to take action to protect American workers was one of the primary reasons he won the presidential election.