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Democratic congresswoman supports Trump's tariffs: We can't afford to lose US steel production

  • President Donald Trump is doing the right thing by proposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur says.
  • Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. will impose a 25 percent tariff for steel and a 10 percent tariff for aluminum as early as next week.
  • "We cannot afford to lose the steel production platform of this country," she says.

President Donald Trump is doing the right thing by proposing tariffs on steel and aluminum, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur told CNBC on Friday.

Trump announced Thursday that the U.S. will impose a 25 percent tariff for steel and a 10 percent tariff for aluminum as early as next week.

"Regions like my own have been heavily harmed by this very unreciprocal trade across the board, almost in every sector. Steel has been particularly hard hit," said Kaptur, who represents Ohio's 9th District in the northern part of the state.

"We cannot afford to lose the steel production platform of this country. So we have to find our way through the thicket and begin to rebuild critical industries just as we've done with our automotive industry," she said on "Power Lunch."

Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)
Getty Images
Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-OH)

Trump's proposal has sparked fears of a trade war and rising consumer prices.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Robert Shiller told "Power Lunch" that he wonders if Trump will start raising other tariffs.

"Even if he doesn't there will be other countries who will retaliate and they'll get bigger. This is really like a first shot in a war and that's what is worrisome," he said.

Roberto Azevedo, director-general of the WTO, said Friday that the organization is "clearly concerned" about the tariffs.

"The potential for escalation is real, as we have seen from the initial responses of others," he said in a statement reported by Reuters.

Proponents, however, believe the tariffs are needed to help level an unfair playing field.

"We have to have markets that are open and free. When markets become controlled or the United States becomes a dump market and jobs are wiped out and entire platforms are wiped out, we lose our defense industrial base," Kaptur said.

She is not alone among her Democratic colleagues in supporting Trump's tariff proposal.

Democrat Bill Richardson, former governor of New Mexico and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, told CNBC on Friday that while he doesn't agree with Trump's stance on things like NAFTA, he thinks the tariffs make sense in this case.

That's because China doesn't play by the rules, he said in an interview with "Closing Bell."

"I think of those Ohio steelworkers in the Midwest that have been suffering," Richardson said.
"I"m going to give the president my support on this one because I think we send a signal to China that needs to be sent, one that we expect you to stop playing around with intellectual property and dumping steel."

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, applauded the tariffs as well.

"This welcome action is long overdue for shuttered steel plants across Ohio and steelworkers who live in fear that their jobs will be the next victims of Chinese cheating," he said in a statement Thursday.

After Trump's announcement, Chinese officials urged the U.S. to support global trade.

Hua Chunying, spokesperson for the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said if other countries followed in the steps of the U.S. it "will definitely inflict serious impacts to the international trade order."

"We urge the U.S. to be restrained in taking trade protection measures, follow the multilateral trade rule, and positively contribute to the global economic and trade order," he said.

— CNBC's Evelyn Cheng contributed to this story.