Former President Donald Trump promised to block the sale of U.S. Steel to a Japanese company, echoing his past protectionist stance on American manufacturing.
Former President Donald Trump said Wednesday that he would “absolutely” block the planned sale of U.S. Steel to a Japanese firm, a move that recalls his tough protectionist policies for American manufacturing while in office.
“We saved the steel industry. Now, U.S. Steel is being bought by Japan. So terrible,” said after a Jan. 31 meeting with the president of the Teamsters labor union in Washington, DC.
A New Jersey-based steel importer later mounted a legal challenge to the Trump tariffs, arguing that the legal process used was “procedurally deficient” and there was no “impending threat” to U.S. national security.
U.S. Steel Deal in Focus
Nippon Steel announced in December that it had agreed to buy U.S. Steel for $14.1 billion in a deal that the Japanese steelmaker said would create the “best steelmaker with world-leading capabilities.”
The all-cash offer of $55 per share of U.S. Steel represented a 40 percent premium over the Dec. 15 closing share price of around $39 per share, with Nippon Steel promising to honor all U.S. Steel’s commitments to its employees.
The proposed deal—which is opposed by the influential United Steelworkers union—is to be put to a vote by U.S. Steel shareholders in March 2024. Before the transaction can be finalized, it must also meet with U.S. regulatory approval.
The potential sale will be reviewed by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS), which can take a range of actions. The panel can block the deal or give it approval. It can also amend the deal or send it to the president’s desk for a decision.
The Biden administration has expressed caution about the sale, with White House national economic adviser Lael Brainard saying that steel “is the backbone of American manufacturing” and the deal deserves “serious scrutiny.”
Members of Congress in both parties have also raised concerns about the deal, citing potential threats to national security.
President Trump did not explain exactly how he might block the U.S. Steel sale if his 2024 comeback bid proves successful. However, critics of the sale in both parties have called on the executive branch to use all its powers to prevent the sale from going through.
Trump Tariffs Redux?
President Trump, who once called himself “Tariff Man” and said such measures “will always be the best way to max out our economic power,” has teased plans to impose a new 10 percent tariff on all imports as a way to raise revenue and compensate for taxes he wants to cut.
“As tariffs on foreign producers go up, taxes on American producers will go down and go down very substantially. And that means a lot of jobs coming in,” President Trump said in one of a series of “Agenda47” policy videos he released last year.
After President Trump’s meeting with Teamsters leadership on Wednesday, he was asked by reporters whether rumors are true that he plans to impose a 60 percent tariff on Chinese imports and a 10 percent tariff on all other imports.
President Trump declined to confirm the rumor, saying that he’s focused on restoring America’s industrial base.
“I want to bring jobs back to the United States,” he said, adding that “sometimes tariffs can do that.”
“We’re going to see what happens,” President Trump said of his tariff plans.
“What I want to do is bring back manufacturing into our country. I want to make the cars sold by China here, in the United States, and I think we’ll do that,” he said.
In June 2023, President Trump rolled out the idea of matching tariffs, saying he would work with Congress to pass what he called the “Trump Reciprocal Trade Act.”
“If India, China, or any other country hits us with a 100 or 200 percent tariff on American-made goods, we will hit them with the same exact tariff. In other words, 100 percent is 100 percent. If they charge us, we charge them—an eye for an eye, a tariff for a tariff, same exact amount,” President Trump said in one of his policy videos.
Frank Fang contributed to this report.