Alexandria, VA. March 27, 2018. Steel exports jumped by more than one-tenth to start the year, rising to 831,184 net tons in January.
The monthly total, which was 10.5 percent higher than in December and 1.6 percent above the January 2017 level, included 429,384 net tons of exports to Canada, a more than 24 percent increase over the previous month and 5.4 percent more than a year earlier, and 300,435 net tons of exports to Mexico, a monthly increase of almost 7 percent but a 9.5 percent decrease compared to the previous January. Exports to the European Union totaled 43,538 net tons, nearly 27 percent below December but 130 percent above the beginning of last year.
A big reason why the United States ships so much steel to Canada and Mexico is the North American Free Trade Agreement, yet the Trump administration has at times expressed eagerness to scrap what the president has derided as “the worst trade deal maybe ever signed anywhere.” Negotiations for a revised NAFTA are reportedly showing some promise, though, and Trump at least acknowledged the important trading relationships with Canada and Mexico by temporarily exempting those countries from his execrable plan to impose 25 percent tariffs on all steel imports. This is not enough, however. With other nations already indicating that they will retaliate by imposing tariffs of their own on billions of dollars in American goods, advocates of protectionism must finally acknowledge that forcing a reduction in imports will inevitably cut exports, as well.