Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, released the following statement today on President Trump’s tariffs on steel and aluminum:
“President Trump’s decision to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports will not protect America. Reminiscent of failed protectionist trade policies of the past, this decision will harm the American economy, hurt American workers, and damage relations with America’s allies and partners.
“America should confront China's unfair trade practices, including its attempts to circumvent existing antidumping tariffs and its pilfering of American invention and innovation through coercion and outright theft. President Trump squandered perhaps the most important opportunity to do that when he withdrew from the Trans-Pacific Partnership. It is fitting that on the very day President Trump finalized these protectionist tariffs, the TPP-11 countries signed the trade pact without us. As a result, American businesses and consumers will not benefit from the advantages free trade brings.
“President Trump compounded that mistake by forfeiting the opportunity to take targeted action to hold China accountable for its behavior in international trade. Instead, he chose to adopt sweeping tariffs that will punish our most important allies and partners all around the world. This strategic mistake will only succeed in undermining the credibility of American leadership on free and open trade, and risk driving our allies and partners closer to China.
“National security should play an important role in our trade decisions. But it should not be used as an excuse for protectionism. President Trump’s contention that steel and aluminum imports are threatening our national security and defense industrial base is simply not supported by the evidence. According to the Department of Defense, U.S. military requirements for steel and aluminum each represent only about three percent of U.S. production. The Department of Defense assesses that its programs are able to acquire all the steel and aluminum necessary to meet national defense requirements. In fact, by potentially triggering significant increases in the price of steel and aluminum, President Trump’s new tariffs could harm our national defense by raising the cost of production for critical military systems needed to sustain the United States’ comparative military advantage against our adversaries, from ships, to armored vehicles, to fighter aircraft.
“There is a better way. America should engage on trade from a place of leadership, demonstrating confidence and strength. We should champion a positive free trade agenda to break down trade barriers and open new markets for American companies. This is the true path to creating jobs, growing our economy, and protecting our national security.”