Trump Signs Metals Tariffs: I Am Defending America's National Security


President Trump announced Thursday tariffs on metals such as steel and aluminum are a matter of national security. He said it is not a matter of choice but a matter of necessity. Trump also said the tariff is partly in response to foreign countries dumping excess steel and aluminum in the United States.

"Today, I am defending America's national security, by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel & aluminum," Trump said. "We will have a 25% tariff on foreign steel & a 10% tariff on foreign aluminum, when the product comes across our borders."

Trump's tariffs will not include Mexico or Canada, who are protected by NAFTA. However, Trump threatened the tariffs could at some point apply to the nations "if we don’t make the deal on NAFTA and if we terminate NAFTA because they are unable to make a deal that’s fair."

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP: Well thank you very much, everybody. I am honored to be here with our incredible steel and aluminum workers.

And you are truly the backbone of America. You know that. Very special people. I've known you and people that are very closely related to you for a long time. You know that. I think it's probably the reason I'm here. So I want to thank you.

I also want to thank Secretary Mnuchin, Ambassador Lighthizer, Secretary Ross, Peter Navarro, Mike Pence, our great vice president. They've worked so hard on getting this going and getting it done.

And people are starting to realize how important it is. We have to protect and build our steel and aluminum industries while, at the same time, showing great flexibility and cooperation toward those that are really friends of ours, both on a trade basis and a military basis.

A strong steel and aluminum industry are vital to our national security. Absolutely vital. Steel is steel. You don't have steel. You don't have a country.

Our industries have been targeted for years and years. Decades, in fact, by unfair foreign trade practices, leading to the shuttered plants and mills, the laying-off of millions of workers, and the decimation of entire communities. And that's going to stop, right? That's going to stop.

This is not merely an economic disaster, but it's a security disaster. We want to build our ships, we want to build our planes, we want to build our military equipment with steel, with aluminum from our country. And now we're finally taking action to correct this long-overdue problem. It's a travesty.

Today, I'm defending America's national security by placing tariffs on foreign imports of steel and aluminum. We will have a 25 percent tariff on foreign steel, and a 10 percent tariff on foreign aluminum.

When the product comes across our borders, it's a process called "dumping," and they dumped more than -- at any time, on any nation anywhere in the world. And it drove our plants out of business, it drove our factories out of business.

And we want a lot of steel coming into our country, but we want it to be fair and we want our workers to be protected and we want, frankly, our companies to be protected.

By contrast, we will not place any new tax on product made in the USA. So there's no tax if a product is made in the USA. You don't want to pay tax? Bring your plant to the USA. There's no tax.

Which we will benefit from the massive tax cuts that we have in place. We have passed the largest tax cut plan in the country's history. And that has caused, really, tremendous success between that and regulation cutting. And I think, maybe, regulation cutting every bit as much. And we have a long way to go on regulations, but we've already cut more than any president in history.

So we're urging all companies to buy American. That's what we want. Buy American. The action that I'm taking today follows a nine-month investigation by the Department of Commerce, Secretary Ross, documenting a growing crisis in our steel and aluminum production that threatens the security of our nation. And also is bad for us economically and with jobs.

The American steel and aluminum industry has been ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices. It's really an assault on our country. It's been an assault. They know better than anybody.

Other countries have added production capacity that far exceeds demand. And flooded the world market with cheap metal that is subsidized by foreign governments, creating jobs for their country and taking away jobs from our country.

I've been talking about this for a long time. A lot longer than my political career. I've been talking about this for many years. For example, it takes China about one month to produce as much steel as they produce in the United States in an entire year.

Because we've closed down so much capacity. Plants closed all over the United States, and some plants -- I see massive plants from 40 years ago, and they're working now in a little corner of the building. Well, we're going to get those buildings open again and producing again. And that's going to be a great thing for our country. And this is only the first stop.

Aluminum imports now account for more than 90 percent of the primary American demand over the last two decades. Nearly two thirds of American raw steel companies have gone out of business. More than one third of the steel jobs have disappeared. Six primary aluminum smelters, which is a big deal, have permanently shut down since just 2012.

The actions we're taking today are not a matter of choice; they're a matter of necessity for our security. We're already seeing the national security benefits of this order. Yesterday, in anticipation that we'd be here today, U.S. Steel announced it's reopening a mill in Illinois, a big one, and recalling 500 workers immediately. That's going on all over the country.

And by the way, it went on with solar panels, which we did three months ago, and washing machines, where they were dumping washing machines all over our country, and now, they're expanding plants to make washing machines. We put the tax on. A lot of you were here.

A skilled, trained workforce in steel is a crucial element of America's national security, and must be protected. After the signing of this proclamation, Century Aluminum in Kentucky -- Century's a great company -- will be investing over $100 million to restart and upgrade their idled military-grade, high-quality aluminum production, which is also critically important to our national security. That's 150,000 additional tons of aluminum. And think of it: This is a closed plant, and now, they're doing 150,000 tons' production, and an additional 300 workers, and ultimately, many more hired in the great state of Kentucky, a package of sometimes $90,000 per worker.

Our greatest presidents all understood, from Washington, to Lincoln, to Jackson, to Teddy Roosevelt that America must have a strong, vibrant and independent manufacturing base -- has to have it. President McKinley, who felt very, very strongly about this -- The country was very, very successful. We actually operated out of cash flow, if you can believe it.

"The protective tariff policy of the Republicans," he said, "has made the lives of masses of our countrymen sweeter, and brighter, and brighter, and brighter. It is the best for our citizenship and our civilization, and it opens up a higher and better destiny for our people."

Many politicians lamented the decline of our once-proud industries, and many countries denounced global excess capacity, but no one took action. All of our politicians, they saw what was happening to our country. I've seen it for 25 years, I've been talking about it. Talked about Japan, talked about China. But the politicians never did anything about it.

But now they are. Our factories were left to rot, and to rust all over the place. Thriving communities turned into ghost towns. You guys know that, right? Not any longer. The workers who poured their souls into building this great nation were betrayed, but that betrayal is now over.

I'm delivering on a promise I made during the campaign, and I've been making it for a good part of my life: If I ever did this -- I never really thought I would. I said, "Let's run for president," and look what happened. And part of the reason it happened is you.

And my message having to do with you. And other messages also: security, military, the wall, the border. A lot of good messages. But this was one of the most important.

My most important job is to keep American people safe. And as you know, we just had approved a $700 billion military budget, the largest ever. $716 billion next year. That means not only safety, but it means jobs. It also means the use of steel from our country.

But if the same goals can be accomplished by other means, America will remain open to modifying or removing the tariffs for individual nations. As long as we can agree on a way to ensure that their products no longer threaten our security.

So I've put Ambassador Lighthizer -- great gentleman -- in charge of negotiating with countries that seek an alternative to the steel and aluminum tariffs.

The fact is, we've been treating -- really, I mean, we've been treated so badly over the years by other countries. I think, really, we've been treated very badly by our politicians. By our presidents. By people that represented us that didn't, frankly, know what they were doing.

And we lose $800 billion a year on trade. Every year. $800 billion. It's been going on for a long time. $300 billion, $400 billion, $500 billion. Got up to $600 billion. And it keeps going. But it's going to start changing -- has to change.

We're negotiating, now, with China. We're in the midst of a big negotiation. I don't know that anything's going to come of it. They have been very helpful. President Xi, I have great respect for. A lot of respect.

But I don't know that anything's going to come of that. But we're going to cut down the -- the deficits one way or the other. We have a deficit with China of at least $500 billion. And when you add intellectual property, it's much higher than that. That's a year.

At the same time, due to the unique nature of our relationship with Canada and Mexico, we're negotiating, right now, NAFTA. And we're going to hold off the tariff on those two countries, to see whether or not we're able to make the deal on NAFTA.

National security. Very important aspect of that deal. And if we're making the deal on NAFTA, this will figure into the deal and we won't have the tariffs on Canada or Mexico.

If we don't make the deal on NAFTA, and if we terminate NAFTA because they're unable to make a deal that's fair for our workers and fair for our farmers -- we love our farmers -- and fair for our manufacturers, then we're going to terminate NAFTA and we'll start all over again or we'll just do it a different way. But we'll terminate NAFTA and that'll be it.

But I have a feeling we're going to make a deal on NAFTA. I've been saying it for a long time. We either make a deal or we terminate. And if we do, there won't be any tariffs on Canada, and there won't be any tariffs on Mexico.

One other thing. Some of the countries that we're dealing with are great partners, great military allies. And we're going to be looking at that very strongly. The tariffs don't go effective for at least another 15 days.

And we're going to see who's treating us fairly, who's not treating us fairly. Part of that's going to be military. Who's paying the bills, who's not paying the bills.

Show commentsHide Comments

Latest Political Videos

Video Archives