Trump, lawmakers meet at White House on addressing trade imbalances

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US President Donald Trump has threatened to impose a retaliatory levy on imports from its trade partners, including US allies.

Taking aim at Seoul, Trump complained that America's 2012 free trade deal with South Korea "was a disaster", vowing the United States would renegotiate a "fair deal" or scrap it altogether. Most Democrats voiced support for the president's action on metals, and Republicans, with the exception of Senator Rob Portman of OH, urged caution.

Trump was presented last month with two Commerce Department reports concerning alleged Chinese subsidies for steel and aluminum exports, whose findings had not been made public. "It is in accordance with worldwide law", said Li Guanghui, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of global Trade and Economic Cooperation in Beijing.

Trump also repeated his suggestion that the USA may withdraw from the North American Free Trade Agreement if its demands are not met in ongoing renegotiations. Trump, who has until mid-April to decide on any restrictions, said on Tuesday that he's considering quotas and tariffs, among other options. "As they dump steel, they pay tariffs, substantial tariffs, which means the United States would actually make a lot of money".

Trump has about 60 days left to make a decision whether to assess penalties under Section 232 of a 1962 trade law that gives the president the power to apply higher tariffs and quotas on imported steel and aluminum for national security reasons.

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He said America's steel and aluminum industries were being "decimated " by dumping.

Shares of U.S. Steel (X) rose 3.6%, AK Steel (AKS) 4.4%, Steel Dynamics (STLD) 2.1%, and Nucor (NUE) 1% on the stock market today. The Commerce Department has not revealed its recommendations in the probes launched last spring. Trump could announce widespread tariffs on steel and aluminum.

Democratic lawmakers provided some of the strongest support at the White House meeting for harsher trade penalties against China and other countries through the 232 process.

"Mr President, I think we do need to be careful here, that we don't start a reciprocal battle on tariffs, ' said Republican Senator Roy Blunt". Some cases are still pending and sometimes the independent U.S. International Trade Commission thwarts a case.

If the investigation determines that imports are unfairly hurting USA producers, then Commerce will apply tariffs ranging from 16% to 132% depending on the country. "We want to help DACA - you don't", Mr. Trump told Brown.

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The issue may boil over next week when Trump travels to Pennsylvania to stump for a Republican candidate running in a special election in a steel-sensitive district. "And when they sell to us, zero", Trump said during the meeting in the Cabinet room.

"Although initiating a trade remedy investigation is a [World Trade Organization] member's right, the frequent and excessive protection of domestic industries does not bring about the intended objective of trade remedies and often leads to a vicious cycle", Wang Hejun, director of the Bureau of Trade Relief Investigation of the Ministry of Commerce, said in a statement.

At this time, any unilateral or protectionist moves would harm countries and damage the trade environment, Geng told reporters in Beijing.

On Monday, a collection of 15 trade associations representing more than 30,000 businesses that use steel to make products warned the White House in a letter that such restrictions could undermine their ability to manufacture goods in the United States.

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