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Trump's 25% steel tariffs should not be scrapped, says U.S. Steel CEO

·Anchor, Editor-at-Large
·3 min read
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U.S. Steel President and CEO David Burritt thinks now isn't the time to rollback former President Donald Trump's signature steel tariffs that were designed to pressure China's rising steel industry.

"We have always said we can compete with anyone on a level playing field. It's very clear we haven't had that level playing field. The Section 232 [tariffs] were necessary. The steel that would come from China — the illegal steel that would come from China — would find its way into Europe and then into the U.S.," explained Burritt on Yahoo Finance Live.

Added Burritt, "So the risk is that unless you have enforcement at the borders, if you take the 232 [tariffs] off, that steel that would come from Europe might actually come from Asia and find its way in. That's the real danger. I think it's too soon to take off the 232 [tariffs]. We need to make sure we can take care of the United States again. Getting back to the pandemic, what did we learn? You have to have a resilient supply chain, a supply chain that you can count on and that means making sure you have enforcement at the borders and keep the illegal steel out."

Trump imposed 25% tariffs on imported steel and 10% on aluminum brought in from overseas back in 2018. At the time, Trump argued the tariffs were needed for national security reasons. But critics of the tariffs contended they simply reflected Trump's long-held negative view of China's business practices.

FILE - In this July 11, 2018, file photo rolls of steel sit in a warehouse at a fabrication company in Chester, Va. The 25% tariffs President Donald Trump has imposed on thousands of Chinese-made products have business owners trying to determine how or whether they can limit the damage to profits from the import duties. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)
FILE - In this July 11, 2018, file photo rolls of steel sit in a warehouse at a fabrication company in Chester, Va. The 25% tariffs President Donald Trump has imposed on thousands of Chinese-made products have business owners trying to determine how or whether they can limit the damage to profits from the import duties. (AP Photo/Steve Helber, File)

The tariffs have since become known as the Section 232 tariffs. Trump invoked Section 232 of the Trade Act of 1962, which allows a president to limit imports of goods vital to national security.

And they likely aren't going anywhere just yet.

Earlier this month, the U.S. Court of International Trade upheld the Section 232 tariffs following an importer's challenge to them. Meanwhile, President Joe Biden has suggested in his early proclamations a desire to keep the tariffs intact.

The effectiveness of Trump's steel tariffs will be debated for some time to come. By and large, most would agree they weren't the U.S. job creator Trump pitched (perhaps quite the contrary, according to a NBC News analysis). That reflects two things. First, a rise in steel prices that weighed on demand. And two, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic which has pressured demand for all sorts of goods and services.

Brian Sozzi is an editor-at-large and anchor at Yahoo Finance. Follow Sozzi on Twitter @BrianSozzi and on LinkedIn.

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