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Trump Undecided on Steel Tariffs as Trade-War Worries Mount

  • Decision expected to coincide with Commerce Department report
  • Axios reports Trump is leaning toward tariffs in range of 20%

President Donald Trump hasn’t decided yet whether to impose punitive measures on steel imports for reasons of national security, as the administration missed a self-imposed deadline to conclude its investigation by Friday.

While the Commerce Department has until early next year to determine whether foreign-made steel threatens U.S. security under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, Secretary Wilbur Ross wants a speedy probe that he hoped to be concluded by the end of June.

The president hasn’t made up his mind yet on the tariffs issue, White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a media briefing in Washington on Friday. A finding by Commerce that steel imports pose a security risk, including to the defense industrial base, could lead Trump to impose tariffs, quotas, or a combination of the two.

The prospect of slapping tariffs on steel imports has raised concerns about sparking a trade spat with some of America’s strongest allies, which supply the abundance of U.S. steel imports. It could also raise prices for U.S. steel users that would make them less globally competitive. The U.S. benchmark price for steel rose 55 percent last year after a slate...