President Donald Trump is considering an executive order that could lead to the implementation of import duties — taxes collected by customs officials — on a number of products, including steel and aluminum.
Whether or not these taxes would be levied on imports would be dependent on the results of an investigation into foreign trade practices.
The concern by the White House is that the nonstop importation of low-cost foreign goods contributes to the trade deficit, according to a White House official who spoke with Reuters.
“The administration would use the results of that investigation to determine the best path forward, which could include everything from no action at all to the levying of supplemental duties,” the official said.
What the executive order would itself specifically do is trigger the launch of this investigation, which according to another source will focus primarily on steel and aluminum, “two industries that are battling for more protection from Chinese imports,” according to Reuters.
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The idea is to make trade more prosperous for the United States by imposing fees on those forms of inbound trade that hurt the nation’s overall economy.
If imposed, these tariffs would reportedly be a huge win for White House chief strategist Steve Bannon, who is an ardent supporter of nationalist policies.
It would, however, likely not be well met by establishment Republicans, who continue to argue that tariffs would hurt the U.S. economy, as foreign manufactures would simply transfer the added expenses paid by them onto American consumers.
As noted by Jim Geraghty of National Review, tariffs would also likely inspire “retaliatory tariffs” from other nations, including China, “third-largest market for American companies behind Canada and Mexico.”
“[T]he tariffs’ intended effect sounds good, but there’s no acknowledgement of their exorbitant costs,” Geraghty added.
But there is a counter argument to consider as well: if tariffs were imposed on imported goods, the American people might feel compelled to start purchasing domestic products in lieu of foreign ones — and that theoretically would be a plus for the U.S. economy, or some might think.
Clearly, implementing tariffs would be a gamble either way, though it should be noted that whether or not the president will move forward remains to be seen and will be wholly dependent on the investigation soon to be launched via his executive order.