NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Steel Tariffs Repealed

December 5, 2003

To hear U.S. steelmakers talk, President Bush's decision Thursday to lift tariffs on steel imports undercuts an industry in the midst of a turnaround, weakens the nation's manufacturing base and caves in to blackmail from foreign countries, says USA Today.

But if Bush had kept levies on foreign steel, far more U.S. businesses, workers and consumers would have suffered:

  • The U.S. International Trade Commission estimates that since the tariffs were imposed last year, U.S. steel companies have earned an additional $240 million; by comparison, other manufacturers have lost $600 million in profits because they had to pay higher prices for steel.
  • The Institute for International Economics, estimates 26,000 jobs have been lost in steel-using industries, compared with 5,000 steelmaking jobs saved.
  • The tariffs have been found to be illegal under international trade rules the United States helped write; had the tariffs been retained, the United States faced the prospect of retaliatory levies on U.S. exports, such as citrus fruit, that would have priced the products out of many foreign markets.

Certainly, steelworkers and their communities have cause for concern about an ailing industry that has slashed jobs, but they stand to benefit more in the long term from a stronger economy than from temporary tariffs, according to USA Today.

Source: Editorial, "Bush's Backtrack On Tariffs Is Overall Economic Plus," USA Today, December 5, 2003.

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