Facing the threat of a trade war, President Bush on Thursday lifted 20-month-old tariffs on foreign steel, a move that will hurt steelmakers in states critical in next year’s election.
To soften the blow, the administration announced a beefed-up monitoring program to guard against a sudden flood of foreign steel coming into the country.
Bush said the tariffs had been imposed to give the domestic industry critical time to modernize and to protect jobs.
“These safeguard measures have now achieved their purpose, and as a result of changed economic circumstances, it is time to lift them,” Bush said in a statement.
The tariffs, covering a wide range of steel products, were originally scheduled to remain in effect for three years, until 2005, to give U.S. steelmakers protection from foreign competition.