Daily Traders Edge

President Trump is keeping his promise to defend our steel and aluminum industries: Navarro

March 13
10:44 2018

“When it comes to a time when our country can’t make aluminum and steel … you almost don’t have much of a country.” This warning from President Trump perfectly encapsulates the national security rationale for imposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, two of the most important industries for the health and stability of the American manufacturing and defense industrial base.

Consider the plight of our once-proud primary aluminum industry — now nearly on its death bed. We need aluminum to build everything from the M2 Bradley fighting vehicle and F-35 Joint Strike Fighter to the Littoral Combat Ship and the Tomahawk missile. We also require aluminum for critical infrastructure projects, from the electric grid and transportation projects to water and sewer treatment plants. As the primary aluminum sector has shrunk dramatically, we have lost high-skilled jobs and tax revenues, while in 2016 our total trade deficit in aluminum products alone was $7.2 billion.

In 2000, America was the world’s largest aluminum producer, but today its share has fallen to 1.4% of the world market while China’s share has risen from 11% in 2000 to 54%.

In 2013, U.S. production was about 2 million metric tons of the roughly 4.5 million metric tons we consumed. According to the Department of Commerce, “Since 2012, six smelters with a combined 3,500 workers have been permanently shut down, totaling 1.13 million metric tons in lost production capacity per year.” Today, only five smelters remain, only two are at full capacity, and only one produces the high-purity aluminum we need for our defense needs.

If we lose that high-purity aluminum production, we will have to depend on others to meet our military’s needs. Absent the 10% tariffs on aluminum that Trump has ordered, we could well lose the rest of our aluminum industry.

Continue Reading at USA Today

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