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Peter Navarro: Steel And Aluminium Tariffs Have ‘Nothing To Do With China’

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Ryan Pickrell China/Asia Pacific Reporter

The president’s proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports apparently have “nothing to do with China,” a senior White House trade official revealed Monday.

President Donald Trump is expected to place 25 percent tariffs on foreign-made steel and 10 percent on aluminum to protect American “national economic and security.”

“China really is the bad actor of the world on trade, let’s make no mistake about that,” Director of the White House National Trade Council Peter Navarro said on WMAL’s “Mornings on the Mall” Monday. But, “this has nothing to do with China directly or indirectly.”

“The president is going to get very tough with China. We are addressing the China problem on many fronts,” he revealed, “But, we don’t really import much steel from China.”

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China has long produced steel at overcapacity and dumped its products on foreign soil to the detriment of foreign industries, but the U.S. has already put restrictions on Chinese steel. The tariffs are actually expected to hit countries like Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, and Russia much harder than China.

“The problem is a global problem,” Navarro said. “We are taking in too many imports from the rest of the world. If we are going to defend ourselves for the aluminum and steel industry, it has to be tariffs across the board.”

While the tariffs may not have anything to do with China, as Navarro suggests, Beijing has been particularly critical of the proposed tariffs.

America’s “unreasonable and excessive use of trade remedy measures will not help revitalize relevant industries at home,” Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokeswoman Hua Chunying told reporters last Thursday. “Rather, it will affect its employment and jeopardize the welfare of American consumers.”

“China will take necessary measures to safeguard its legitimate rights and interests,” she added.

“For this country to defend itself and prosper, and the president has said this, we need a steel industry and an aluminum industry. These are the backbone industries of our country, and we are losing them,” Navarro argued. “We’ve lost 75,000 jobs in the steel industry since the year 2000, and we’ve shrunk that industry by a third. We’ve lost ten production facilities. There’s no games going on here. We have two industries in trouble that the president wants to defend, and that’s what he’s doing.”

He stressed that the tariffs serve to protect America’s defense industrial base, infrastructure, and jobs.

“We need those industries,” Navarro said.

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