Trump says mulling trade sanctions against China

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The other countries involved in the US probe are Canada, Greece, India, South Korea and Turkey, who are suspected of dumping large-diameter welded pipe into the USA market. And Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee, said that past tariffs imposed in 2002 by President George W. Bush on steel had cost jobs for auto parts companies.

"With an 81 percent increase in trade cases initiated since President Trump took office, this Administration has made it clear that we will vigorously administer antidumping and countervailing duty laws", Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said in a release.

Trump received some support from the group, but also warnings that action against China could drive up prices and hurt U.S. manufacturing outside the steel and aluminum sectors.

Trump's protectionist, nationalist message appealed to voters in the US" "Rust Belt', areas of high unemployment and poverty caused by the decline of traditional manufacturing industries.

Taking aim at Seoul, Trump complained that America's 2012 free trade deal with South Korea "was a disaster", vowing the United States would renegotiate a "fair deal" or scrap it altogether.

But Trump also said he "wants to hear from both sides before making a trade decision".

China is anxious about the "serious tendency of USA protectionism in the field of steel products", he said.

"You know, we make aluminum and we make steel" he said.

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Daniel Ikenson of the pro-trade CATO institute said that Trump may be forced moderate his actions, if not his tone.

Senator Ron Wyden, Democrat of OR, urged the president to include "Buy America" provisions in his infrastructure plan, and asked the administration to publicly release reports that the Commerce Department had submitted last month to the White House.

Last year China imported 3.2 million tonnes of the chemical worth more than US$4 billion from the US. Senator Sherrod Brown, Democrat of OH, thanked Mr. Trump for recent tariffs imposed to protect American manufacturers of washing machines, and urged tough measures on steel imports.

Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, suggested that the president focus specifically on countries that have unfair trading practices.

"So we're going to be doing very much a reciprocal tax and you'll be hearing about that during the week and the coming months".

Trump nonetheless mentioned it again in Tuesday's meeting. He added that "we're like the stupid people" if the USA continues to pay tariffs imposed by other countries while allowing their products to enter the USA with lower duties.

Twice this week Trump has raised the idea of trade penalties he calls a "reciprocal tax", only to have White House officials insist there's no plan in the works for such an action.

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