WASHINGTON – House Speaker Paul Ryan urged the Donald Trump administration on Tuesday to adopt a more “surgical” and “targeted” focus regarding the president’s plan to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports.
“There is clearly abuse occurring. Clearly, there is overcapacity dumping in trans-shipping of steel and aluminum by some countries, particularly China, but I think the smarter way to go is to make it more surgical or more targeted,” Ryan told reporters.
Earlier, Ryan – a Republican – had said that he was “extremely concerned” about the potential consequences of a trade war that might erupt as a result of the tariffs.
Trump has called for the imposition of a 25 percent tariff on steel imports and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum imports, a proposal that has sparked threats of reprisals by various European countries and China.
In calling for the tariffs, Trump invoked the seldom-used Section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act, which allows the president to unilaterally impose tariffs for national security reasons.
However, Ryan said Tuesday that 232 is “a little too broad” and “is more prone to retaliation.”
“What we are encouraging the administration to do is to focus on what is clearly a legitimate problem and to be surgical in its approach so we can go after the true abusers without causing any collateral damage or unintended consequences,” Ryan said.
“We want to make sure abusers are held to account, especially China,” he added.
Ryan said that he is in discussions with the president about the tariff issue but he did not say if any progress has been made so far in getting Trump to adjust his position.