“Our Steel and Aluminum industries (and many others) have been decimated by decades of unfair trade and bad policy with countries from around the world,” Mr. Trump said on Twitter Thursday morning. “We must not let our country, companies and workers be taken advantage of any longer. We want free, fair and SMART TRADE!”
The legal review of the trade measures is not yet complete, and the White House was left scrambling Thursday morning to prepare the announcement, the people familiar with the matter said.
The announcement would also come on the same day that top administration officials are scheduled to meet with China’s top economic adviser, Liu He. The White House has been eager to clamp down on Chinese imports and has several trade measures underway.
The investigation, which was launched under an obscure measure of the trade law called Section 232, has focused on whether imports were compromising American national security by degrading the industrial base. In a report released to the public in February, the Commerce Department concluded that imports were a national security threat.
The Trump administration has already issued tariffs — it imposed restrictions on foreign washing machines and solar panels in January — but trade analysts said the coming announcement could be the broadest and most significant measure yet from an administration that has vowed to take a substantially different tack on trade.
Eswar Prasad, a professor of international trade at Cornell University, said the action portended “a period of open and aggressive trade hostilities with some of America’s major trading partners” and threatened to undercut the rules of the World Trade Organization, which the United States itself was instrumental in forming.