Steel Protectionism Won’t Protect National Security

Late Jan. 11, the Department of Commerce issued a report to President Donald Trump detailing whether steel imports threaten U.S. national security. The president now has 90 days to decide how his administration will respond to the findings. A non-classified summary of the report will be published in the Federal Register after the president makes his decision. If Commerce has provided an affirmative determination, rather than helping our national security objectives, the president’s subsequent remedies would harm our security interests and jeopardize alliances. Since Adam Smith published “The Wealth of Nations” in 1776, no issue has united economists like free trade. Yet even Smith, free trade’s most notable evangelist, understood that when trade jeopardizes security, the free flow of goods across borders should yield. With a strong theoretical case for restricting trade in times of emergency, Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and Article XXI…

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