By Barry Eitel
SAN FRANCISCO (AA) – The Department of Commerce on Friday recommended a series of high tariffs or quotas on imports of steel and aluminum into the United States.
Calling the issue a matter of “national security”, the Commerce Department said the amount of these metals brought into the U.S. was concerning.
The recommendations will now head to President Donald Trump. Trump has until the middle of April to make decisions on the suggestions.
The 262-page document laid out several different options, including a 24 percent tariff on all steel imports and 7.7 percent tariff on all aluminum imports.
There were also country-specific options, including a 53 percent tariff on steel brought in from a dozen nations that included Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Russia, South Korea, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam. A 23.6 percent tariff would be placed on all aluminum from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam.
All other nations not specifically tariffed would face an import quota equal to 2017 import levels according to this option.
Global quotas were at the heart of another plan outlined in the report. The Commerce Department suggested quotas amounting to 63 percent of every country’s exports of steel to the U.S. last year and 87 percent of aluminum exports.
“I am glad that we were able to provide this analysis and these recommendations to the president,” Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement. “I look forward to his decision on any potential course of action.”
The report is a result of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which allows the president to impose broad tariffs and quotas if an investigation reveals that the imports in question present a national security threat. Trump ordered the Commerce Department to begin a Section 232 investigation into steel and aluminum imports in April of 2017.
The U.S. is the largest importer of steel in the world, with an import level that is roughly four times the nation’s export level, the report noted.