The Trump administration likely to protect semiconductor, ship building and aluminum industries citing national security concerns

The Trump administration is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that American business interests are protected from those trying to exploit loopholes and weaknesses in existing treaties.

Wilbur Ross, the U.S. Commerce Secretary has told the Wall Street Journal that the Trump administration could potentially take trade actions to protect U.S. shipbuilding, semiconductor and aluminium industries, citing national security concerns.

These industries could qualify for protection under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which lets the U.S. President impose restrictions on imports for reasons of national security.

The said section was earlier used by Trump to launch a probe of steel imports from China and other exporters of cheap steel, which raised the possibility of new tariffs.

Ross also disclosed that the Trump administration could intercede to help Toshiba Corp’s U.S. unit Westinghouse Electric Co, which could potentially keep the Chinese at bay.

With Westinghouse Electric filing for bankruptcy last month, doubts were cast on the future of the first new U.S. nuclear power plants.

Ross also stated that renegotiating the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) should be completed by the end of 2017 and if the negotiations on the pact go beyond December, it would be difficult to get Mexico to ratify the treaty.

Incidentally, Mexico is scheduled to hold its presidential election in July 2018.

On the issue of bilateral trade deals with the European Union and China that the Obama administration had begun but was unable to complete, Ross stated that the United States could potentially reopen a bilateral deal with South Korea.

This comes in the wake of U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence telling business leaders in Seoul that the Trump administration would review and reform the five-year-old free trade agreement between the two countries.

Pence had said the U.S. trade deficit had more than doubled in the past five years since free trade agreement began, there were still too many barriers for U.S. businesses in the South Korea.

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