President Trump today called for a study "to determine the effects on national security of aluminum imports."
In a memo to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, Trump states:
Core industries such as steel, aluminum, vehicles, aircraft, shipbuilding, and semiconductors are critical elements of our manufacturing and defense industrial bases, which we must defend against unfair trade practices and other abuses. In the case of aluminum, both the United States and global markets for aluminum products are distorted by large volumes of excess capacity -- much of which results from foreign government subsidies and other unfair practices. Efforts to work with other countries to reduce excess global overcapacity have not succeeded.
The artificially low prices caused by excess capacity and unfairly traded imports suppress profits in the American aluminum industry, which discourages long-term investment in the industry and hinders efforts by American aluminum producers to research and develop new and better grades of aluminum. If the present situation continues, it may place the American aluminum industry at risk by undermining the ability of American aluminum producers to continue investment, research, and development, and by reducing or eliminating the jobs needed to maintain a pool of skilled workers essential for the continued development of advanced aluminum manufacturing.
Consequently, Trump wants the Commerce Department to:
(a) consider the domestic production of aluminum needed for projected national defense requirements; the capacity of domestic industries to meet such requirements; the existing and anticipated availabilities of the human resources, products, raw materials, and other supplies and services essential to the national defense; the requirements of growth of such industries and such supplies and services, including the investment, exploration, and development necessary to assure such growth; and the importation of goods in terms of their quantities, availabilities, character, and use as those affect such industries and the capacity of the United States to meet national security requirements;
(b) recognize the close relation of the Nation's economic welfare to our national security, and consider the effect of foreign competition in the aluminum industry on the economic welfare of domestic industries;
(c) consider any substantial unemployment, decrease in government revenues, loss of skills or investment, or other serious effects resulting from the displacement of any domestic products by excessive aluminum imports; and
(d) consider the status and likely effectiveness of efforts of the United States to negotiate a reduction in the levels of excess aluminum capacity worldwide.
If Ross finds that aluminum "is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security, the Secretary shall . . . recommend actions and steps that should be taken to adjust aluminum imports so that they will not threaten to impair the national security," according to the memo.
In a similar memo issued last week, Trump directed the Commerce Department to study the effects of steel imports on national security.