The chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, said today he fears that President Trump's tariffs on steel and aluminum imports could end up hurting the U.S. economy by triggering a trade war and hurting U.S. exports while raising consumer prices.
Trump today ordered steep new tariffs to become effective in 15 days on steel and aluminum imports to help protect American metal producers and U.S. national security. Canada and Mexico would be exempt from the tariff while negotiations continue for a new North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA).
"Unfortunately, I fear this announcement could have far-reaching unintended consequences that will put at risk the hard fought economic gains U.S. businesses have seen over the past year," Corker said. "Hopefully, the president will come to realize this possibility and further narrow this announced policy."
Corker said he shares Trump's concerns about China dumping excess steel on the world markets. But the Tennessee Republican said he was "disappointed by the administration's approach to this problem and ultimate decision to use a rarely used national security provision to implement new tariffs" of 25 percent on steel imports and 10 percent on aluminum.
"A better way to level the playing field for American companies would be to rally our friends and allies to advance a robust, targeted effort to ensure that only those responsible for excess global capacity pay a price," Corker said.
U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, the other Tennessee Republican in the U.S. Senate, also appealed to Trump earlier this week to back off his aggressive steel and aluminum tariff tax on all countries, which he said is "disappointing news for Tennessee workers."
"President [George W.] Bush's similar steel tariffs in 2002 backfired and proved that such tariffs destroy many more U.S. manufacturing jobs than they save," Alexander said.
Alexander said Trump's threat last week to impose the duties led Electrolux to freeze a $250 million expansion at its Springfield, Tenn., plant — "even though 100 percent of the steel Electrolux uses is produced in the United States."