Monday, November 20, 2017
Editorials

Editorial: Trump should not put tariffs on foreign steel

RECOMMENDED READING


An impending decision on steel imports is shaping up to be a litmus test for how the Trump administration will deal with trade issues: through the framework of free markets and open borders or through anti-growth protectionist measures. Many longtime European allies voiced their concern and opposition to potential U.S. protectionist measures on steel during Trump's second European trip as president. To foolishly abandon a decades-long march toward open markets would further antagonize key allies and could set the stage for a broader trade war that would harm the U.S. economy.

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross warned last month that this nation is too dependent on foreign-produced steel and that could threaten national security. But even he acknowledged making that leap requires a "broad definition'' of national security that includes the needs of the economy. President Donald Trump is considering either tariffs or quotas, musing to reporters aboard Air Force One last week, "Maybe I'll do both.'' That remark caused steel stock prices to rise, but such protectionist measures would defy long-standing free trade principles and are not in the broader public interest.

Much of the steel industry's concern centers on China. While China is by far the largest steel producer, it was only the 11th largest exporter of steel to the United States last year. A better approach than new tariffs or quotas would be more conventional multilateral methods such as anti-dumping duties. The United States had more than 100 of these trade remedies in effect against steel imports in 2016, including 20 targeting China, according to the World Trade Organization. They work, with steel imports from China decreasing 63 percent from 2015 to 2016.

The impact of this decision will go beyond steel and signal to other countries what to expect from the Trump administration going forward on trade. The White House appears split between traditional, free market supporters like National Economic Council director Gary Cohn and Treasury Secretary Steve Munchin, and protectionist cheerleaders like Ross and National Trade Council director Peter Navarro. The steel choice will indicate which group has the upper hand with the president.

Last month's jobs report showed 220,000 jobs added, surpassing Wall Street's expectations. The unemployment rate is 4.4 percent, the stock market remains strong and housing prices are up. Trump should not risk that stability by abandoning open trade for protectionism, because the unintended consequences could be serious.

Comments

Editorial: Good for Tampa council member Frank Reddick to appeal for community help to solve Seminole Heights killings

As the sole black member of the Tampa City Council, Frank Reddick was moved Thursday to make a special appeal for help in solving four recent murders in the racially mixed neighborhood of Southeast Seminole Heights. "I’m pleading to my brothers. You ...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

Editorial: It’s time to renew community’s commitment to Tampa Theatre

New attention to downtown Tampa as a place to live, work and play is transforming the area at a dizzying pace. Credit goes to recent projects, both public and private, such as the Tampa River Walk, new residential towers, a University of South Florid...
Published: 11/17/17
Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

Editorial: Rays opening offer on stadium sounds too low

The Rays definitely like Ybor City, and Ybor City seems to like the Rays. So what could possibly come between this match made in baseball stadium heaven? Hundreds (and hundreds and hundreds) of millions of dollars. Rays owner Stu Sternberg told Times...
Published: 11/16/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

Editorial: Wage hike for contractors’ labor misguided

St. Petersburg City Council members are poised to raise the minimum wage for contractors who do business with the city, a well-intended but misguided ordinance that should be reconsidered. The hourly minimum wage undoubtedly needs to rise — for every...
Published: 11/16/17

Editorial: Make workplaces welcoming, not just free of harassment

A federal trial began last week in the sex discrimination case that a former firefighter lodged against the city of Tampa. Tanja Vidovic describes a locker-room culture at Tampa Fire Rescue that created a two-tier system — one for men, another for wo...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Editorial: Firing a critic of his handling of the sewer crisis is a bad early step in Kriseman’s new term

Barely a week after St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman promised to unite the city following a bitter and divisive campaign, his administration has fired an employee who dared to criticize him. It seems Kriseman’s own mantra of "moving St. Pete forwar...
Published: 11/15/17
Updated: 11/16/17
Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

Editorial: USF’s billion-dollar moment

The University of South Florida recently surpassed its $1 billion fundraising goal, continuing a current trend of exceeding expectations. At 61 years old — barely middle age among higher education institutions — USF has grown up quickly. It now boast...
Published: 11/14/17
Updated: 11/17/17
Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

Editorial: Vets should not have to wait years for benefits

American military members hurt in service to their country should not have to wait a lifetime for the benefits they deserve. But that’s a reality of the disability process at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, which hasn’t made payi...
Published: 11/14/17

Editorial: Deputies’ rescue reflects best in law enforcement

The bravery two Hillsborough County sheriff’s deputies showed a week ago is a credit to them and reflects the professionalism of the office.Deputies Benjamin Thompson and Trent Migues responded at dusk Nov. 11 after 82-year-old Leona Evans of Webster...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/17/17

Another voice: An untrustworthy deal with Russia

President Donald Trump’s latest defense of Russian leader Vladimir Putin included — along with a bow to his denials of meddling in the U.S. election — an appeal to pragmatism. "Having a good relationship with Russia is a good thing, not a bad thing,"...
Published: 11/13/17
Updated: 11/14/17