WASHINGTON DC (KDKA) — Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross told KDKA Legal Editor Julie Grant the Trump administration’s tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are necessary to change the trend and get America back in a place where we can take part in fair and equitable trade.
“Aluminum, steel and coal are the backbone of our nation. They are the bedrock of our industrial base,” said President Donald Trump.
The president continues to say trade policies must put America first.
“It’s the only way we’re going to change the trend. It’s the only way we’re going to get back to a more free trade, reciprocal arrangement,” said Ross.
Tariffs on imported steel and aluminum from Canada, Mexico and Europe are part of the president’s America-first plan.
“We need fair trading practices, the president is absolutely right. These trade deals were terrible. They were good for the foreign countries and bad for us,” said Ryan Zinke, Secretary of the Interior.
But some fear the move could move the U.S. closer to a trade war.
“Well, as the president has said we’ve already lost the trade war, that’s why we have these huge deficits. Now we’re trying to claw our way back,” said Secretary Ross.
Some critics argue more jobs will be lost in the consuming industries than gained in the steel and aluminum industries.
Ross says that will not happen because the total amount of the tariffs, assuming it all got passed on, is only a tiny fraction of one percent our economy.
“The can of Budweiser beer, a can of Campbell’s Soup – it’s a fraction of a penny per can,” said Ross.
According to Ross, in the country’s $18 trillion economy, it will not have any discernible impact on those industries.
Ross said the economic benefits and added employment far outweigh the price side and should contribute to more American steel mills reopening for business.
Many folks in the Pittsburgh area are skeptical since the mills are gone. To that Ross said, “US Steel, a few weeks ago, opened a million and a half ton mill in Illinois. Last night, the CEO announced that he’s going to open another million to 200,000 ton. These don’t happen to be in the Pittsburgh region, but it shows that it’s starting to happen.
On Wednesday, the European Union announced it will start imposing retaliatory tariffs on a list of U.S. products in response.