YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – President Donald Trump wants to know if steel imports are harmful to U.S. national security. He signed a memo last week ordering a probe into the matter.
Trump’s biggest message for American steel companies is that he will protect them — a promise local steelworkers and lawmakers won’t let the president forget.
“Steel is critical to both our economy and our military,” Trump said. “This is not an area where we can afford to become dependent on foreign countries.”
Trump insists the investigation isn’t targeting Chinese steel.
Local steelworkers say it’s another example of the President trying to protect blue collar U.S. industries.
“We feel very good about the possibilities of steel coming back,” said Fred Redmond, international VP of the Steel Workers Union. “Not just in the United States, but U.S. steel being exported across the world.”
But they also expect Trump to deliver.
“We’re gonna hold this president accountable just like we hold every president accountable,” Redmond said. “This president made some commitments toward manufacturing. We’re honored to work with him when we can and we’re gonna challenge him when we have to.”
Valley lawmaker Congressman Tim Ryan agrees.
“[Trump] has been doing a lot of talking,” Ryan said. “He signed some executive orders in regards to the coal industry that even republican owners of coal companies said weren’t going to create one job. This is a longer, harder process — this is the hard work of governing. He needs to keep expectations down. …It’s gonna be a lot of hard work.
“But if we’re talking about getting steelworkers back to work and making sure that trade is done properly, I’m all for it and have been for a long time. But even some of these trade enforcement provisions that we work hard to get put on still aren’t enough. There’s a lot of other work to do.”
The memo falls under the trade expansion act of 1962 — a section of which actually permits a U.S. President to restrict trade if he determines it is harmful to U.S. security. The order requires that this investigation be completed within 270 days.
Once the review is completed, Trump will decide on curbing the import of foreign steel.
The U.S. imports steel from more than 90 countries, according to the International Trade Administration. Top providers include Canada, Mexico, Russia, Brazil, Turkey and Germany.