President Trump plans to make an announcement Thursday about steel and aluminum trade measures, as he faces deadlines on whether to impose tariffs or quotas on imports of both products.
It is unclear what exactly the president has decided, but he gave a window into his thinking when he tweeted about the industries Thursday morning.
“Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world. We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!” he wrote.
Increased foreign production, especially by China, has driven down prices and hurt American producers. The Commerce Department calls the situation a national security threat.
Trump has to make decisions on steel by April 11 and on aluminum by April 19.
Industry officials have been invited to the White House on Thursday, but it remained unclear what Trump intends to announce and when.
Any action to impose tariffs is likely to escalate simmering tensions with China and other U.S. trading partners. Critics of such a move fear that other countries will retaliate or use national security as a pretext to impose trade penalties of their own. They also argue that sanctions on imports will drive up prices and hurt U.S. automakers and other companies that use steel or aluminum.
The Commerce Department is recommending tariffs on all steel and aluminum imports, higher tariffs on imports from specific countries or a quota on imports.
Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross last month offered the president three options:
–tariffs of 24 percent on all steel and 7.7 percent on aluminum imports from all countries.
–tariffs of 53 percent on steel imports from 12 countries, including Brazil, China and Russia, and tariffs of 23.6 percent on aluminum imports from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam. Under this option, the United States would also impose a quota limiting all other countries to the aluminum and steel they exported to the United States last year.
–a quota on steel and aluminum imports from everywhere, limiting each country to 63 percent of the steel and 86.7 percent of the aluminum they shipped to the U.S. last year.
Trump last year ordered an investigation into whether aluminum and steel imports posed a threat to national defense.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.