Trump Plans to Take ‘Bold Action’ on Steel Imports, Wilbur Ross Says

Updated on
  • Nucor, U.S. Steel and AK Steel gain most in at least a week
  • Commerce investigation into steel a work in progress: Ross

Sec. Ross Says Steel Import Plan a Work in Progress

American steelmakers rallied on Monday as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross confirmed that President Donald Trump intends to take “bold action” to address national-security risks presented by steel imports.

Nucor Corp., U.S. Steel Corp. and AK Steel Holding Corp. all rose the most in at least a week as Ross indicated in an interview with Bloomberg Television that Trump is inclined to take major steps to protect the industry. Ross said later on Monday that he expects studies into steel and aluminum imports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act to be released this month.

“Then the question will be what does the president do with the recommendations,” he said. “The president being the president, I don’t think he’ll dilly-dally.”

Sec. Ross says that U.S. steel import probe is a “work in progress.”

Source: Bloomberg

Nucor, U.S. Steel and AK Steel were among the best performers in the Bloomberg Americas Iron/Steel Index at 1:10 p.m. in New York, rising 2.1 percent, 3.6 percent and 3.2 percent, respectively.

White House officials are said to be divided over how far to go in pressing the case that steel imports undermine the nation’s ability to build equipment such as planes and submarines. Administration officials are debating raising tariffs on imported steel or opting for a hybrid model that would require buyers to pay an additional duty on foreign-made steel once a quota is reached, according to industry representatives with knowledge of the discussions. Ross has said a hybrid model would mute the inflationary impact.

On Monday, Ross said options include tariffs and so-called tariff-rate quotas. He said the 232 provision gives the U.S. tools that are less dependent on geography and specific products than filing individual trade cases that have failed to address the “systemic problems” in the industry.

“The dumping of steel from one country into another makes the second country have excess capacity, which they then dump, and then the country they dump into continues the saga,” Ross said.

The Commerce investigation comes after the Obama administration handed down a series of anti-dumping measures that have helped curtail cheap Chinese shipments and boosted prices and profit for domestic steelmakers. Buyers of metal are concerned that more protection will drive up their costs.

Ross suggested the steel investigation will more broadly examine how steel imports can contribute to risks in the wider economy, not just to national security threats. The report will address issues in the context of national security under “a broad definition, including strong reference to the needs of the economy,” Ross said.

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