President Donald Trump is expected to sign an executive order as early as Thursday directing the Commerce Department to investigate whether steel imports into the U.S. should be blocked on national security grounds, according to sources familiar with the plan.
A number of steel industry executives have been invited to the White House for an event with Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross. Representatives from ArcelorMittal, Nucor, U.S. Steel, AK Steel and Timken are expected, along with the president of the United Steelworkers union. China’s excess capacity to produce steel is seen as a long-term threat to the U.S. steel industry’s viability, but it’s unclear if the order will single out any country or be global in scope.
The proposed order would direct Ross to launch an investigation under a provision of U.S. trade law that requires the Commerce secretary to report to the president within 270 days whether a certain product is being imported in sufficient quantities or under such circumstances that it threatens to impair national security.
The White House did not respond to a request for comment.
The president then has another 90 days to decide whether to “adjust” imports or take some other non-trade related action.
The United States imported about 30 million metric tons of steel in 2016, down from 35 million in 2015, for use in a variety of sectors including buildings, bridges, water and sewage plants and oil and natural gas production. Major foreign suppliers include Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Japan and Germany.
China is relatively far down on the list because of a number of U.S. countervailing and anti-dumping duty orders already in place on its exports.
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