Individuals, not nations, trade. Remind yourself of this truism and many fallacies melt away. I have no conflict of interest with Chinese or Canadian steelmakers or other foreign producers. On the contrary, we have a harmony of interests.
Trump justifies this crony capitalist move by reference to section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which grants the president the authority to impose tariffs in cases involving national security. This is transparent bad faith. We get two-thirds of our steel from domestic producers. Among the nations from whom we buy the rest, adversaries like China (2.2 percent) and Russia (8.7 percent) contribute trivial amounts. Our biggest suppliers are Canada, Brazil, South Korea and Mexico. Moreover, Trump has also suggested that the steel tariffs could be dropped in exchange for concessions in NAFTA negotiations, proving that the national security argument is disingenuous.