Steelmakers in China are gearing up for a battle with the Trump administration to force the country to pull its billions of dollars of steel exports out of the country.
Key points:The US and China have been trading at loggerheads over steel tariffs for yearsThe steel trade dispute has been simmering for years, and US officials have been pressuring China for months to drop its tariffsSteel industry experts say the tariffs could push up steel pricesSteel imports are expected to be down by as much as a third as a result of the tariffsSteel mills are already struggling to cope with the trade warSteel tariffs are usually aimed at making steel cheaper than cheaper imported steel, and the US is looking to do the same for steel imports.
The steel dispute has grown to the point where it is now being driven by the Trump White House, and there is no indication that China will budge.US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer said on Monday that he was urging China to drop the tariffs and move on with its steel exports.
“If they do not, we are going to be putting a lot more pressure on them and we’re going to try to get them to do it,” Mr Lighthizers comments, according to Reuters.
“This is a very dangerous game that we are playing and the Trump Administration is making the rounds to try and put pressure on China to do something about it.”
A spokesman for the US Steel Council (USSC) told Business Insider that the Trump team had not yet met with the Chinese leadership, but he did confirm that the steel trade was a “very high priority”.
“We know the USSC supports the USTR in this matter and we look forward to working with the administration to reach an agreement that is good for steelmakers and for US steel,” USSC President Jim LeCouteur said in a statement.
“Our mission is to provide competitive pricing for steel to the US and the world and we will continue to work with the US Trade Representative to secure a fair and equitable global trade deal that protects the steel industry and US workers.”
Mr LeCousteur said he was not aware of any other companies in the US who have threatened to withdraw their steel exports from China, and he said he did not think the tariffs were likely to have any impact on the industry.
“There’s no reason to believe it will have any effect,” he said.
Mr Lighthiser said the administration was still weighing whether to pull steel imports from China.
“I would imagine they would be considering that as part of their deliberations,” he told Reuters.”[But] if they are considering that, I don’t think it’s going to have a very substantial impact on them.”
Steel is one of the key raw materials for making steel, but the US has been cutting back on imports of the material.
China’s steel industry is one the largest in the world, and imports have been reduced by about a third since the beginning of the year.
The US has imposed tariffs on steel imports to make up for the loss of steel to China.
The tariffs were imposed after China’s steel trade surplus with the United States declined in 2017.