I am not here to defend China per se. Even after being told by one of the left’s darling mouth pieces that I am a global corporatist fellow traveler of Senator Ron Johnson. I realize that China doesn’t play fair. And I realize that China produces about half the world’s steel. But China isn’t the bogeyman in the current state of American steel production.
As President Trump announced his proposed tariffs last week, 25% on steel and 10% on aluminum, in another breath he condemned China’s steel trade practices. GOP electeds across the cable and radio news shows excoriated China’s steel trade practices while supporting the tarriffs. Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, while trying to convince the president to reign in his tariff talk and avoid a trade war, accused China of unfair trade in steel with the United States (“There is clearly abuse occurring … by some countries, particularly China”).
Meanwhile our friends and neighbors have been threatening retaliatory tariffs and actions if President Trump follows through with his plans (something that he apparently intends to do with the resignation of Trump advisory Gary Cohn this afternoon). Why? Because they will be hurt the most. And the president has been doubling down on supporting his tariff on all imported steel.
There’s only one big problem with this whole scheme. China is the 11th largest exporter of steel to the United States. About TWO percent of the steel imported to the United States comes from China. China sends us less steel than India.
As a matter of fact, the three largest exporters of steel to the United States? Canada (16%), Brazil (13%) and South Korea (10%). Other large exporters include Mexico, Russia, Turkey and Japan. You might make a case for putting tariffs on Russian steel as part of punishment for their continued interference in American elections…but these tariffs would be harming a good number of our best friends and allies. How does that make sense and how does that impact national security?
So President Trump needs to come clean!China isn’t going to be harmed by tariffs on steel. So why are these tariffs so all fired important? Or is this just another example of the president not having a single idea on what he’s doing?
Here’s some extra credit reading if you are so inclined: