President Trump has pulled some of his biggest punches so far on trade. But his administration has thrown lots of jabs.
The number of trade investigations, which often lead to tariffs on other countries’ products, rose 81% in the first 12 months of Trump’s presidency, according to a Commerce Department investigation announced Tuesday.
During that time, the Trump administration launched 94 investigations into alleged unfair trading practices from dozens of countries. Some cases are still pending and sometimes the independent U.S. International Trade Commission thwarts a case.
Major decisions are looming in the near future. Trump could announce widespread tariffs on steel and aluminum. The fate of NAFTA, the trade pact between the U.S., Canada and Mexico, is up in the air as negotiations make little progress. And Trump told Reuters in January that he’s considering a big fine on China for it’s alleged theft of U.S. intellectual property.
The latest trade investigation announced Tuesday was no different. The Commerce Department initiated an investigation on welded pipes coming from Canada, Greece, China, India, South Korea and Turkey. A few U.S. steel and iron producers petitioned for the investigation.
If the investigation determines that imports are unfairly hurting U.S. producers, then Commerce will apply tariffs ranging from 16% to 132% depending on the country.
The Trump administration has imposed tariffs on solar panels, washing machines, lumber, paper, steel and many industrial products. Some tariffs, like paper, are targeted at countries like Canada, while others, such as solar panels, apply to all imports.
Trump reiterated his approach toward trade on Monday.
“We cannot continue to let people come into our country and rob us blind and charge us tremendous tariffs and taxes and we charge them nothing,” Trump said at the White House. “They’ve gotten away with murder.”
CNNMoney (New York) First published February 13, 2018: 12:26 PM ET