Administration Action on Steel and Aluminum
Vital to Protecting National Security
(Pittsburgh) – United Steelworkers (USW) International President Leo W. Gerard issued the following statement following a session the President hosted at the White House with steel and aluminum industry executives. During the session, the President indicated that he wanted to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to achieve the goals identified in the Department of Commerce Section 232 investigation reports.
“The steel and aluminum sectors have been under attack by predatory trade practices. For too long, our political leaders have talked about the problem, but have largely left enforcement of our trade laws up to the private sector. This is not what hard-working Americans want from their government. They expect national security, the foundation of which is built with steel and aluminum, to be protected.
“President Trump initiated action to investigate the impact of aluminum and steel imports on our national security. We applauded his action then and appreciate the attention that this issue has received in recent months. Comprehensive reports were sent to the White House and released to the public. They validated what we already knew: these sectors are critical to our nation.
“Since the President initiated action last year, workers across the country have raised their voices in calling for the need of action to ensure that our aluminum and steel sectors can survive. Our members have actively fought for action. Their voices have been echoed by a broad, bipartisan cross-section of Congress. They were joined by many of their colleagues and officials at the state and local level. Every call, letter, meeting and discussion focused on building a better America.
“The question for some time has been what action to take. Today the President announced that he wants to impose tariffs at a level of 10 percent on aluminum imports and 25 percent on steel. For the USW, the objective has always been to restore market-based economics that ensure that our domestic producers can achieve a fair return as they invest in facilities, equipment and people, and contribute to the strength of our nation. The objective should also be to reduce the negative impact of steel and aluminum imports that have decimated production in the United States. The tariff levels the President announced will help to achieve that objective.
“Secretary Ross, Ambassador Lighthizer and Director Navarro have been working hard to assess what form of relief will achieve the President’s goals. As the Administration puts together the finer details about the implementation of relief, we will work with them. It will be critical to focus attention on the countries that have created the problem, and do not participate in helping to promote a solution.
“Canada is not the problem. The United States and Canada have integrated manufacturing markets and our union represents trade-impacted workers in both nations. In addition, the defense and intelligence relationship between the countries is unique and integral to our security. Any solution must exempt Canadian production. At the same time, Canada must commit to robust enforcement and enhance its cooperation to address global overcapacity in steel and aluminum.
“Now, we need to work to finalize the design of relief and implement it. We are more than willing to work with the Administration to ensure that cheaters are held accountable and to resolve this quickly so that we can rebuild our nation’s manufacturing sector.”
The USW represents 850,000 workers in North America employed in many industries that include metals, rubber, chemicals, paper, oil refining and the service and public sectors.