WASHINGTON -- US President Donald Trump said Thursday he plans to impose a 25 percent tariff on steel imports next week, a move that could affect South Korean steelmakers.
Speaking at a meeting with business executives at the White House, Trump also said he plans to impose a 10 percent tariff on imports of aluminum and keep the two measures in place indefinitely.
"We'll be signing it in. And you will have protection for the first time in a long while, and you're going to regrow your industries," he said. "That's all I'm asking. You have to regrow your industries."
The move is mainly aimed at Chinese imports, but South Korea is also an exporter of steel to the US.
According to the Korea Iron and Steel Association, the country shipped out $3.2 billion worth of steel products to the US in 2017.
The Trump administration has aggressively pursued trade remedies in an effort to revive domestic industries.
It recently slapped tariffs on imports of large residential washers and solar cell panels, targeting companies including South Korean electronics giants Samsung and LG.
Trump speaks during a meeting with steel and aluminum executives in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Thursday, March 1, in Washington. From left, Beth Ludwig of AK Steel, Roger Newport of AK Steel, John Ferriola of Nucor, Trump, and Dave Burritt of U.S. Steel Corporation. (AP)
"People have no idea how badly our country has been treated by other countries, by people representing us that didn't have a clue," Trump said. "Or if they did, then they should be ashamed of themselves because they've destroyed the steel industry, they've destroyed the aluminum industry, and other industries, frankly."
Trump's action follows investigations into the impact on national security from steel and aluminum imports. The Department of Commerce found that their quantities and circumstances "threaten to impair the national security."
On steel, the Commerce Department recommended three alternative remedies -- a global tariff of at least 24 percent on all steel imports from all countries, a tariff of at least 53 percent on all steel imports from 12 countries, including South Korea, with a quota on imports from all other countries, or a quota for all countries equal to 63 percent of their respective 2017 exports to the US
Trump reportedly faced opposition from within and outside his administration over the tariffs. He was required to make a decision by April 11.
Former US Rep. Donald Manzullo, who was chairman of the House Small Business Committee, said the action is likely to hurt consumers through price increases on final products and push more steel-using manufacturers to offshore production and jobs.
"I have been down this road before when President George W. Bush imposed tariffs as high as 30 percent back in 2002, which resulted in a loss of more American jobs in industries that use steel than the number of people employed in the entire US steel industry at the time," he said. "While South Korea is fortunately not singled out for heightened trade penalties, steel tariffs as high as 25 percent applied across-the-board globally will backfire." (Yonhap)