Trump Orders Investigation of Steel Imports Based on National Security Concerns

Thursday, April 20, 2017 7:52 PM Written by 
Published in Imports

Earlier today, President Donald Trump signed an Executive Order requesting the U.S. Department of Commerce conduct an investigation under the Section 232 statutes (national security) to see if steel and imports of foreign steel are important to National Security interests of the United States.

“We’re going to use American steel, we’re going to use American labor, we are going to come first in all deals.” – President Donald J. Trump

This is not the first time a Secton 232 investigation has occurred. There was an investigation ordered back in 2001 shortly after 9-11. At that time, Commerce found that steel is not a product needed for national security issues. Steel Market Update spoke with trade attorney Lewis Leibowitz this afternoon and he told Steel Market Update: "The President has ordered Secretary Ross to conduct an investigation into the impact of steel imports on national security.  The fact sheet (I have not seen the memorandum ordering the initiation of the investigation) indicates that the period of investigation and reporting could be much shorter than the 270 days provided in the statute.  It could be 30 days or less.

"There is no guarantee of the result of Secretary Ross’ investigation. However, precedent does not support using 232 to restrict steel imports.  They are not vital to national security.  Most recently in 2001, the Commerce Department found that imports of iron ore and semifinished steel did not jeopardize national security because a miniscule amount of finished steel was actually used for national security products made from steel.  Since 2001, that quantity has undoubtedly diminished (for example, in Iraq armored vehicles chiefly used aluminum rather than steel because of weight)." 

Here are comments from the White House including their Fact Sheet which answers many of the questions being posed by the steel industry this afternoon:

A JUSTIFIABLE AND NECESSARY ACTION: As imports of steel to the United States continue to rise, an examination of foreign practices is urgently needed.

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Brett Linton

Brett Linton is a Steel Industry Analyst for Steel Market Update. He is a graduate of North Georgia College & State University with a Bachelor's degree in Finance. Mr. Linton joined SMU in April 2010 as a Research Analyst and is responsible for data management and analysis, market research, developing our visual aids, and writing articles about the economy and steel industry. For more information, you can reach Brett at

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