An error occured. Details Hide
You have unsaved pages. Restore Cancel

On March 8, 2018, US president Donald Trump issued two proclamations to adjust US imports of aluminum and steel from all countries except Canada and Mexico, key regional allies and trade partners. President Trump asserted that a 25 percent tariff on steel “articles” and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum articles are necessary for the US to develop its domestic steel and aluminum industries and to protect and create jobs. 

  • The US is the world's largest importer of the steel and aluminum articles covered by the proclamations. The import value of steel articles has declined twofold in the last two years, yet remains 32 percent greater than in 2009 and double the value in 2003. In contrast, the value of aluminum articles imported during the last three years has been increasing and is now twice the level in 2000 while remaining below the most recent peak in 2006.
  • Canada and Mexico, which are exempted from the tariffs, constitute 32 percent of total US imports of steel and aluminum articles. China accounts for only 8 percent of US imports of the same steel and aluminum articles.
  • According to the Global Trade Alert (GTA), the US implemented 47 percent of harmful interventions in the steel industry in the period since the start of the global financial crisis. China, however, has made more harmful interventions in the aluminum industry—about 5 percent of total events globally—than any other country, according to GTA.

The US government will potentially collect $7.4 billion a year from the new tariffs, according to the definitions specified in the presidential proclamations and data from the United Nations Statistics Division.

  • Imports of affected steel articles to the US constituted $23.5 billion in 2016, which was nearly half of all US iron and steel imports in 2016 and about 1 percent of total US merchandise imports that year.
  • US imports of aluminum articles constituted less at about $15 billion in 2016, or approximately 80 percent of total US aluminum imports.

The winners and losers among US trading partners vary based on the specific articles.

Steel articles. The top 5 exporters of steel articles to the US are Canada, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Japan, and Brazil, however, article-by-article trade dynamics modify the impact of the tariffs.

  • The largest categories of steel articles affected by the new tariffs are flat-rolled products, tubes, pipes, and hollow profiles of iron or non-alloy steel.
  • Brazil is the largest exporter of semi-finished products of iron or non-alloy steel to the US.

Aluminum articles. Canada is also among the top 5 exporters of aluminum articles to the US, joined by China, Russia, the UAE, and Mexico.

  • The largest affected category among aluminum articles is unwrought aluminum.
  • China is the largest exporter of aluminum plates, sheets, and strip to the US.

Download our latest US ECONOMY data brief

The US economy has extensive influence on global economic dynamics. Download our US Economy Data Brief to stay up to date with easy access to the most critical data from leading sources.

Related Data Insights

Danger Lurking in Global Macroeconomic Imbalances

  By 2021, the global macroeconomic imbalance may return to the historic 2007-2008 levels that preceded the global financial crisis (aka the Great Depression). A high macroeconomic imbalance may be dangerous as the last time it reached these levels resulted in significant global economic downturn.The global macroeconomic imbalance can be measured as the standard deviation of the annual current account balances (CAB) of the largest economies. As goods and services make up the predominant share of the CAB, for simplicity you can consider the CAB balanced if exports equal imports.A positive CAB means a country’s exports...

Export Concentration Index: A Measure of Economic Vulnerability

The concentration index of exports estimates a country’s reliance on a limited group of commodities as its primary source of foreign exchange income. Ranging from 0 (perfect diversification) to 1 (concentrated on a single product)*, a comparison of index scores to the contribution of natural resources to GDP worldwide shows that countries that are resource-rich tend to have less diversified export bases.Last year Iraq’s export concentration index reached 0.97, driven by its export concentration in mineral fuels, namely oil. Other oil exporters—including Angola, Iran, Kuwait, and Nigeria, among others—likewise have high...

US-China Trade War: First Signs of Thaw

Weeks after US President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping agreed to a temporary halt in the US-China trade war, the first positive signs of a return to normal trade relations are emerging. Last week, the China Grain Reserves Corporation (Sinograin) and fellow state-run Chinese enterprise Cofco bought more than 1.5 million tons of US soybeans, the first significant deal since the countries agreed to a 90-day truce from December 1, 2018, to March 1, 2019. The announcement caused a spike in soybean futures to $918.5 a bushel, the highest price since June.Soybeans were one of the most significant Chinese imports...

An International Trade Perspective on the War in Syria

  The Syrian Civil War is the largest ongoing military conflict in the world, already claiming a total of at least 167,000 lives* since civil unrest first erupted in March 2011 on the heels of the Arab Spring. Human life is one measure of a wars devastation. Today, we examine the devastation of war from an economic perspective: international trade.  The disruption in Syrian trade has already lowered its ranking globally from the 88th largest exporter in 2011 to the 141st in 2015.Syria experienced the world's second largest loss of total foreign trade from 2011 to 2015, with exports decreasing by 88 percent and imports by...