U.S. Speaker Paul Ryan is calling on President Donald Trump to take a “surgical, more targeted” approach when implementing hefty taxes on steel and aluminum imports or the U.S. could face “unintended consequences.”
Speaking with reporters in Washington Tuesday, Ryan acknowledged there’s “abuse occurring” when it comes to the dumping of steel.
“There is, clearly, abuse occurring. Clearly, there is overcapacity: dumping in transhipping of steel and aluminum by some countries, particularly China,” Ryan said. “But, I think the smarter way to go is to make it more surgical and more targeted. So, I think 232 (national security clause) is a little too broad and I think it’s more prone to retaliation.”
Last Thursday, Trump hinted he would impose hefty duties on imported steel and aluminum in an effort to protect American producers. There are concerns the move could have a ripple effect by igniting a trade war.
Trump announced he would slap a 25 per cent tariff on steel imports and another 10 per cent on aluminum imports, vowing to help an American industry, he says, that had been treated unfairly by other countries.
The U.S. president believes the import duties will help protect American jobs and will boost the U.S. economy. The Trump administration also cited national security interests for implementing the tariffs, saying the military needs a domestic supply for its tanks and ships.
“What we’re encouraging the administration to do is to focus on what is clearly a legitimate problem and to be more surgical in its approach so we can go after the true abusers without creating any kind of unintended consequences or collateral damage,” Ryan said.
In 2017, the U.S. imported over 35 million tonnes of steel. Canada supplied about 16 per cent of that steel. While China produces nearly half of the world’s steel, the U.S. only imports roughly two per cent of its steel from the country.
Speaking with Trump on Monday, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau “registered his serious concern about the U.S. administration’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum,” according to the call readout from the Prime Minister’s Office.
“He emphasized that the introduction of tariffs would not be helpful to reaching a deal on NAFTA,” the readout said.
Trump appeared to suggest earlier in the day that Mexico and Canada may be exempt from the tariffs should the three countries sign a new NAFTA deal.
Trump has yet to formally announce the proposed tariffs.
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