The US Commerce Department said Friday it recommended imposing tariffs on China, Russia and other countries to counter a global glut in steel and aluminum which it says threatens national security.
In a report to President Donald Trump, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross includes among the options a nearly 24% tariff on all products from China, Russia and three other economies.
Other options would impose either high tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum imports.
The findings are part of an investigation into the impact of the oversupply of steel and aluminum, and whether it undermines US national security.
In each case “the imports threaten to impair our national security,” Ross told reporters in a conference call about the so-called Section 232 investigation.
China and Russia are primary targets, but many other countries are included in the recommended sanctions, which are sure to spark fears of a global trade war if implemented.
Ross said the sanctions were designed to be broad to prevent targeted countries from circumventing the limits by shipping through a third country.
He said “serial offenders can evade these orders by transshipment through another country.”
For steel, Ross recommended three possible options: a 24 percent tariff on all steel from all countries; a 53 percent tariff on imports from 12 countries, including China, Russia and Brazil; or a quota on steel from all countries.
For aluminum, he recommended either a 7.7 percent tariffs on the metal from all countries; a quota for all countries; or, perhaps the most shocking of all the options, a 23.6 percent tariffs on imports of all products from China, Russia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Venezuela.
Ross submitted the two reports to the White House in late January.
Trump has until mid-April to decide on any possible action, which he acknowledged likely would prompt action by US trading partners in the World Trade Organization.
US industries have urged the administration to take care since high import tariffs would raise the cost of supplies for major industries.
But Commerce said the goal of the measures is to boost domestic aluminum and steel production. — AFP