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Economy

Trump's Tariffs Dim the Prospects for Trump's Wall

In a protectionist double-whammy, tariffs will make steel for infrastructure more expensive, while a crackdown on waivers will make U.S. steel mandatory.
Prototypes of President Donald Trump's proposed border wall just went up in price.
Prototypes of President Donald Trump's proposed border wall just went up in price.Jorge Duenes/Reuters

President Donald Trump still wants to build a wall along the southern border with Mexico. At times, he’s nearly taken a first step toward that goal, most recently during bipartisan negotiations over immigration. Democrats in Congress offered to fund a border wall in exchange for protections for immigrants living in the U.S., but the deal collapsed without the president’s support.

On Thursday, Trump shocked the world by unilaterally announcing tariffs on steel and aluminum. In the name of national security—authorized by a Cold War power known as Section 232—Trump declared his plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. If he proceeds, these tariffs will rewrite commodities markets, drive up prices for steel importers, and shake up an already stirred White House economics team.