President Donald Trump said on Thursday at the White House that his administration will impose new tariffs on imported steel and aluminum to protect U.S. producers. The measure fulfills a major promise made on the campaign trail and is widely supported by industry workers in Rust Belt states no Republican had carried before President Trump since the 1980s.
“We have with us the biggest steel companies in the United States. They used to be a lot bigger, but they’re going to be a lot bigger again,” President Trump said. “And we have the big aluminum companies in the United States. And they’ve been very unfairly treated by bad policy, by bad trade deals, by other countries.”
The president’s remarks came as he met with chief executive officers from major U.S. producers, including Nucor President and CEO John Ferriola and U.S. Steel CEO Dave Burritt. The industry has had high hopes the Trump Administration would reverse trade policies damaging to U.S. industry.
“They’ve been horribly treated by other countries, and they have not been properly represented. More importantly, because of that, workers in our country have not been properly represented,” the president said. “So we’re going to build our steel industry back and we’re going to build our aluminum industry back.”
The move, which will be formally announced next week, will impose a 25% tariff on imported steel and 10% tariff on imported aluminum. Wall Street reacted poorly to the measure, though most analysts believe the fundamentals of the U.S. economy are strong.
“We believe very strongly that it’s time for decisive and meaningful action to stem the flow of illegally traded imports into this country,” said Mr. Ferriola, who heads the largest steel production company in the U.S. “And we are counting on the administration to fulfill the promises that were made and to give us that level playing field to compete.”