U.S. Could Impose Heavy Tariffs on Russian Metal Producers

The U.S. Department of Commerce suggests applying protectionist measures against suppliers of aluminum and steel to the U.S., according to the report released by the department.

According to AFP, the Department of Commerce said several recommendations are offered in respect to aluminum suppliers. A tariff of at least 7.7% on all aluminum exports from all countries, or a tariff of 23.6% on all products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam.

Options were also worked out by the U.S. Commerce Department for steel suppliers. The suggestion is to set a global tariff of at least 24% on all steel imports from all countries, or a tariff of at least 53% on all steel imports from 12 countries (Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Republic of Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam).

The U.S. president “is required to make a decision on the steel recommendations by April 11, 2018, and on the aluminum recommendations by April 19, 2018,” the department said.

The move gives President Donald Trump the opportunity to strike a highly public blow for his “America first” trade policy, but raises the prospect of retaliation from countries targeted and was sure to stoke fears of a trade war.

U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said typical US trade actions against dumping and illegitimate subsidies had failed to address market oversupply, particularly by China, because “Serial offenders can evade these orders by transshipment through another country, with or without additional processing.”

Trump has until mid-April to decide what remedies to impose, if any, and Ross acknowledged that any US action is likely to be challenged by exporting nations in the World Trade Organisation, Ross said.

The recommended steel and aluminum sanctions address long-standing concerns about Chinese overproduction, but take the extraordinary tack of framing them in terms of national security and defense.

The administration of former president Barack Obama also sought to tackle the subject but emphasized trade talks with China rather than punitive measures.

And these proposals could hurt other countries more than China, which is the world’s largest steel producer but provides less than one per cent of US imports and sells only 10 per cent of its wrought aluminum abroad.