U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday will sign a directive asking for a speedy probe into whether imports of foreign-made steel are hurting U.S. national security, two administration officials said on Wednesday.
Addressing global steel overcapacity and injurious steel imports with antidumping and countervailing duties does not solve the problem, he said.
"Maintaining the production of American steel is extremely important to our national security and our defence industrial base".
The move is another step in Trump's "America First" policies in which he has tried to boost USA manufacturers and preserve American jobs.
"The administration launching this investigation is an impactful way to help address the serious threat posed by these unfair foreign trade practices, and we applaud this bold action", Gibson said.
At an Oval Office ceremony where he was surrounded by US steel executives, Trump signed a memorandum ordering the Commerce Department to conduct a speedy probe into the impact of steel imports on the USA defense industrial base at a time when he is ordering new ships, planes and tanks to be built. It does not focus on a particular country, but analysts say the order is likely to be wielded against China, which has about half of the world's steel capacity and has flooded the global market with cheap steel in recent years.
Keeping track of steel prices can be more complicated than watching the value of commodities such as iron ore or oil because of the wide variety of steel produced for specific uses.
For example, U.S. Steel climbed near 8 percent, and AKS Steel Holdings was trading on pace to top its best day since April 7, when the stock gained 8.36 percent. Contracts for major Pentagon weapons programs typically are accompanied by stipulations that combat gear must be built using American steel.
By law the investigation must be concluded and a report submitted within 270 days. The American steel industry argues that if the U.S.is dependent on imported steel, it could be vulnerable if relations break down with nations that export it.
Imports have risen "despite repeated Chinese claims that they were going to reduce their steel capacity", Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a briefing for reporters at the White House. That would force up their prices and make domestic steel prices competitive, enabling closed mills to reopen and rehire. ArcelorMittal SA, which is headquartered in Luxembourg, is one of the largest producers of steel in the USA but supplies some of its mills in the US with partially finished products imported from its mills in Mexico or Brazil. The third - which is the one U.S. Steel is seeking to revive Thursday - involves antitrust violations that the companies improperly conspired to fix prices and control export volume.
"As with Trump's campaign promises, the executive order is full of loopholes that are created to protect Wall Street interests and multinational corporations-at the expense of American workers and communities", wrote The Nation's John Nichols.
Commerce and White House officials made a decision to look into a possible action after growing concerns about China's actions to influence the steel market. Ross, a former steel executive, said he expected it to be done much sooner.