TAIPEI, Taiwan — Making good on a campaign promise, President Trump on Thursday announced plans to introduce 25 percent tariffs on imported steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum next week.
Speaking at a White House meeting, Trump said that for decades, "disgraceful" trade policies have impacted the steel and aluminum industries. "When our country can't make aluminum and steel," he said, "You almost don't have much of a country."
But one market that won't be moved much, if at all: Chinese steel.
"A number of Chinese steel mills, transporters, and traders have actually given up on the U.S. market as an export destination," said Shanghai-based Linda Lin, editor of the China Steel Service at consulting firm CRU.
The U.S. is the world's largest steel importer, relying on shipments from more than one hundred countries and territories. Details regarding the tariffs were not presented, and it's unclear if certain trade partners will receive preferential treatment. During the meeting, though, Trump did single out China.
For the Chinese steel manufacturers, however, the news was inconsequential. Although China is the world's largest steel exporter, it is only the 11th-largest source country to the U.S., accounting for just 2 percent of total U.S. imports last year.
Given this low base, "We think this is a negative for the world steel industry as a whole, but as for China, we don't think it can be any worse," Lin said.