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  • BREAKING: Trump Announces Tariff On Steel, Stock Market Plummets


    On Thursday, after a lot of back and forth with his White House advisers, Donald Trump decided to announce that his administration will impose a heavy tariff on foreign-made steel and aluminum starting next week.

    The tariffs will be set at 10 percent for aluminum and 25 percent for steel, and there’s no expiration date on the duration of these new economic penalties.

    Trump met with aluminum and steel executives in the White House shortly before the announcement. There also seemed to be lots of confusion and debate over Trump’s plan among administration officials, as an anonymous White House source told CBS News that chief of staff John Kelly wasn’t fully briefed by the Commerce Department.  In fact, the possibility of the announcement caught many White House officials off guard as they scrambled for answers. Reports say that the tariffs are a construct of both Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and White House trade adviser Peter Navarro.

    Key Senators were also completely left in the dark, as the White House failed to give them advance warning regarding even the possibility of the tariffs being announced.

    On Thursday Trump tweeted that numerous U.S. industries, including aluminum and steel “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!”

    The administration originally had until April 11 to come to a final decision about steel tariffs and April 19 to decide on aluminum.

    Trump’s shocking decision is likely to escalate heated tensions with China and other U.S. trading partners. Experts fear that other countries may decide to retaliate or cite national security as an excuse to impose their own trade penalties on U.S. goods. They also say that tariffs on imports will inflate prices and hurt U.S. automakers as well as other companies who use a lot of steel and aluminum.

    The Commerce Department is recommending tariffs on all foreign-made steel and aluminum, and higher tariffs on imports from certain countries or a cap on imports.

    Last month Ross offered Trump the following 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.

    Last year Trump ordered an investigation into whether steel and aluminum imports threatened national security. Ross said in February that the imports “threaten to impair our national security,” and cited as an example, that there’s currently only one U.S. based company that produces a high-quality aluminum alloy needed for U.S.military aircraft.

    Stopping Trump from imposing the tariffs may be a tough task, as section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 gives the president the power to limit imports and impose an unlimited number of tariffs for an unrestricted amount of time, should the Commerce Department determine that a legitimate threat to national security exists within the current trade atmosphere.

    Featured image via Spencer Platt/Staff Getty Images.

    Joe Clark

    I'm originally from Louisiana, just outside of New Orleans; now living North Texas. I'm a reformed "South Park Conservative" who has grown passionate about progressive issues like social justice, education, criminal justice reform, gun control, ending the war on drugs, and economic inequality. I believe America's a stronger nation when we come together as one to find a solution and humble ourselves enough to consider other points of view from our neighbors around the world. I don't believe in American exceptionalism, but I do believe America can only be an exceptional place as long as we can be brutally honest about its strengths and weaknesses.