Trump orders probe into whether steel imports harming US

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President Donald Trump directed his administration Thursday to expedite a just-launched investigation into whether steel imports are jeopardizing USA national security, saying, "This is not an area where we can afford to become dependent on other countries".

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross launched the probe on Wednesday night.

Trump last week declined to label China a currency manipulator, despite campaign promises to do so, and expressed support for the Export-Import Bank, after previously criticizing the credit agency. Trump's directive will ask Ross to conduct it "with all deliberate speed and deliver the results to the president with his recommendations", a second official said.

After Trump's meeting Thursday afternoon with top management in the steel industry, many infrastructure stocks were trading in green territory and tracking for their best days in weeks.

Following a memo-signing event at the White House, John Ferriola, chief executive of the Nucor Corp., said he hoped the investigation would result in a "level playing field" for the USA steel industry.

And AK Steel CEO Roger Newport said in a statement that "we are hopeful that this action on behalf of our Administration will help us and other steel producers in America compete on an even playing field in all of our markets". "This has to do with worldwide, what's happening".

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"There clearly is room for an increase in production in the United States", Ross said.

To do so, the Trump administration is using investigative powers granted to the office of the president by Section 232 (B) of the Trade Expansion Act.

Then, the president has 90 days to determine whether he agrees with Commerce's finding and recommended action and duration.

The question, Ross said in a briefing about an hour before Trump signed the memorandum for the investigation, concerns not only the effect of foreign steel coming into this country in high volumes for all manner of manufacturing, from appliance-making to energy industry components, during peacetime.

Ross said Chinese steel exports have continued to rise "despite repeated Chinese claims that they were going to reduce their steel capacity when in fact they have been increasing it consistently".

And even within the USA steel industry, numerous biggest producers are global companies with sprawling operations that could be affected by new trade sanctions. The domestic industry's capacity to meet those requirements, the related human and material resources, the importation of goods in terms of their quantities and use.

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Surrounded by steel industry representatives, the president called the signing of the memorandum a "historic day for American steel", saying his administration would "fight for American workers and American-made steel, and that's beginning immediately".

The administration faces a tough road to argue, as the act dictates, that US national defense is being undermined by steel imports, said Mr. Leibotwtz.

Any harm steel imports cause to the economic welfare of the United States, recognizing the close relationship between economic prosperity and national security.

"I'm pleased the administration is willing to consider trade enforcement tools that haven't been used in more than 15 years", he said.

"But the Department of Defense only consumes a small portion of domestic steel output, and this has decreased over the past decade as composites technology has advanced", Bialos said.

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