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US mulls hefty tariffs on steel imports

February 17, 2018

The US Commerce Department has said in a report to President Trump that imposing high tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from China and other nations could help fight a global glut. China called the report "baseless."

China steel
Image: Getty Images/K. Frayer

In his report to the president, US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross on Friday recommended imposing tariffs on imports from a number of countries. He included among the options a tariff of nearly 24 percent on all products from China, Russia, Hong Kong, Vietnam and Venezuela.

Other options would impose either higher tariffs or quotas on steel and aluminum imports. The recommendations are part of an investigation into the impact of the oversupply of steel and aluminum and whether the current glut undermines US national security.

China and Russia are frequently mentioned as the primary targets of the proposed sanctions which are certain to spark fears of a global trade war, if implemented.

Chinese retaliation?

In response, China's Commerce Ministry on Saturday called Ross' report "baseless," urging the United States to respect the rules of multilateral trade and to contribute to the system of international economy and trade in a positive way.

The ministry also suggested that China might make retaliatory moves by taking "necessary measures to protect its own reasonable interests," though it gave no details.

Controversial move

Ross said the sanctions were designed to be broad to prevent targeted nations from circumventing the limits by shipping through a third country.

US President Donald Trump has until mid-April to decide on any possible action, which he acknowledged would most likely prompt a strong response from business partners in the World Trade Organization

US industries have already urged the administration to take care since high import tariffs would raise the cost of supplies for major sectors of the economy.

Let the tariffs begin!

tj, hg/ng (AFP, dpa)