President Donald Trump believes his divisive metals tariffs will save the American steel industry — despite any pain the duties have caused so far.
In an interview Wednesday with The Wall Street Journal, the president contended that his trade actions would reduce foreign competition and boost a flagging industry. While steel prices may temporarily be "a little more expensive" — which has prompted criticism from some economists, Republican lawmakers and companies that use steel inputs — the tariffs will ultimately pay off by boosting U.S. companies, the president contended.
He argued that steel plant openings show his tariffs are working and creating a "booming" steel industry, according to the Journal.
Many economists, business leaders and even members of his own party disagree.
Earlier this year, the president imposed tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent on imports of steel and aluminum, respectively, from most countries. The move prompted blowback from China, the European Union, Mexico and Canada, which put tariffs on U.S. products. The actions led to fears of a trade war that would affect a widening swath of the U.S. economy.
The president has repeatedly promised that any damage to firms that see higher steel costs, or farmers that struggle with lower prices due to retaliatory duties on agricultural products, would only be temporary as he pushes major trading partners to negotiate new free trade deals. He says the moves will also protect American workers hurt by foreign competition.
While some steel companies have opened new plants this year since Trump levied the tariffs, other companies which have seen higher steel costs have announced workforce reductions.