Fear of retaliation against U.S. producers should not deter the Trump administration from defending America’s interests by using every “legitimate” tool available — including Section 232 investigations into the national security impact of imports, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer told the House Ways & Means Committee on Thursday.
[Jenny Leonard] June 22nd, 2017 [Inside Trade]
“The argument that ‘well, other people will use their national security exemption for ways that are really hidden protectionism,’ that’s also a concern and something we have to think about, but I’m inclined to believe, personally, that with respect to a lot of these countries they’ll use every tool they have right now to defend their interests and to take advantage of our markets,” Lighthizer said in response to a question by Rep. Pat Tiberi (R-OH).
“So I’m kind of less persuaded by that argument,” he continued, “although I think it’s a legitimate argument, something we have to be concerned about.”
Tiberi, citing fears of retaliation he said his constituents have raised, questioned the administration’s use of a rarely used trade law that could lead to the imposition of restrictions on steel and aluminum based on national security grounds.
Lighthizer called it “an obligation to all Americans” to ensure that the U.S. cracks down on unfair trade practices. “We have a kind of a contract with all of our workers and all of our farmers that we are going to defend America, or free trade doesn’t mean anything,” he said. “I think every member of this committee agrees with that. And this is one of the tools that is legitimate to look at and to use in that context.”
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