Alexandria, VA - The national security of the United States depends on steel – both domestically produced and imported.
As President Donald Trump reviews the Section 232 report submitted by the Department of Commerce, he would do well to remember the value that quality affordable steel produced overseas provides to this country and the costs that would be incurred by restricting their import.
Imported steel is found in defense and weapons systems and national critical infrastructure, as well as throughout the private sector. The global market enables governments and businesses to acquire steel at competitive prices, lowering federal, state and local spending and boosting the economy.
Yet, while steel is critical to national security, defense accounts for only about 3 percent of the nation’s total steel consumption. In a crisis, then, domestic manufacturers could, if necessary, boost their production to meet any new requirements. Even in the event of a crisis, though, there is little reason to think that the supply of foreign steel would be cut off, since most imports come from friendly nations.
Imposing tariffs or quotas on steel imports certainly invite retaliation by other countries. One does not need to be an expert on the early-20th century Smoot-Hawley Tariff Act to know that abandoning the principles of free trade can spark a trade war and, potentially, a global recession or worse. And economic instability is often a proximate cause for violent conflict.
Imposing tariffs and quotas on steel imports would put both national and economic security at risk. The American Institute for International Steel urges President Trump to reject protectionism and, instead, continue the longstanding free trade policies that preserve and enhance U.S. interests.