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Trump Says His New Tariffs Are About National Security – They’re Not


(Tim Fernholz – Quartz)

Donald Trump claims that steep new import taxes on aluminum and steel will protect US national security. Few people believe him, and that’s a problem for him—and the world.

Trump’s zero-sum worldview has painted foreign countries as the main threat to American economic prosperity. While that’s a factually dubious position, there’s no question unfair trade practices have undermined the case for globalization: China is widely seen as unfairly subsidizing its aluminum and steel producers, giving them an advantage on the global market and undermining the production of raw metals around the world. But the US imports very little steel from China—less than 2% of its supply—because it has already put in place limits on such imports by challenging China’s subsidies at the World Trade Organization.

Nevertheless, the Trump administration promised its voters more big action on trade. Further WTO challenges could take years, so to make policy more quickly, Trump invoked section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which grants the US the ability to impose trade restrictions in the name of national security. Yet the administration’s approach to negotiating those trade restrictions throws its whole “national security” case out the window. Click here to read more.

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