WASHINGTON – US President Donald Trump formally signed on Thursday an order imposing tariffs of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum, from which Mexico and Canada will be exempted, for the moment.
Trump levied the tariffs – which will go into effect in 15 days – despite significant criticism from many Republican lawmakers and economists, saying that he was imposing them “not (as) a matter of choice, ... (but rather as) a matter of necessity.”
The president emphasized at the White House signing ceremony that steel and aluminum are “vital” for US “national security.”
In addition, he said that due to the “special relationship” with Canada and Mexico, key trade partners with whom the US is presently negotiating revising the North American Free Trade Agreement, these two countries will not be affected by the new tariffs.
“I have a feeling we’re going to make a deal on NAFTA,” Trump said. “If we don’t make the deal on NAFTA and if we terminate NAFTA,” then the tariffs would also apply to Mexico and Canada.
“A strong steel and aluminum industry are vital to our national security,” the president said. “You don’t have steel, you don’t have a country.”
“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,” Trump added.
Accompanying the president at the signing ceremony were Vice President Mike Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, along with a group of workers and representatives from the US steel industry.