By: Bryan Riley, Director of the National Taxpayers Union Free Trade Initiative
Date: March 12, 2018
President Trump recently used Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which allows the President to restrict imports for “national security” reasons, to unilaterally impose taxes of 25 percent and 10 percent on imported steel and aluminum, respectively.
Earlier this year, the Trump Administration used Section 201 of the Trade Act of 1974 to restrict imports of solar modules and washing machines. Section 201 allows the government to impose trade barriers if a U.S. industry is threatened by a surge of imports.
These laws each suffer from major flaws that undermine U.S. interests abroad and make it harder to create and maintain good jobs here at home. By focusing only on an import restriction’s impact to a particular industry, and not on consumers and the economy as a whole, our current rules enshrine a strong bias toward protectionism. Fortunately, Congress can easily fix those flaws by simply changing a few words in current U.S. statutes.