President Donald Trump signed new tariffs on steel and aluminum on Thursday after an address in the Roosevelt Room of the White House, a move that has been hotly contested by advisers and aides to the president.
During the announcement, Trump stressed his position on protectionist policies he’s expressed for decades and argued that the tariffs will provide a much-needed boost to U.S. manufacturing as unfair trade policies are renegotiated.
“The American steel and aluminum industry has been ravaged by aggressive foreign trade practices,” Trump said during the announcement. “It’s really an assault on our country.”
The Trump administration is calling for a 25 percent tariff on imported steel and 10 percent on aluminum, to take effect in 15 days.
The White House said Thursday that Canada and Mexico would be exempted from the tariffs while the North American Free Trade Agreement is renegotiated. It added that other countries like Australia could also be exempted depending on negotiations designed to ensure that trade policies benefit the U.S.
The president stood with workers in the manufacturing industry before signing the order.
“Our factories were left to rot and to rust. All over the place,” Trump said. “Thriving communities turned into ghost towns. You guys know that, right? Not any longer. The workers that poured their souls into building this great nation were betrayed. But that betrayal is now over. I’m delivering on a promise I made during the campaign, and I’ve been making it for a good part of my life.”
During the address, Trump asked some of the manufacturing industry professionals in attendance to share their stories, and the president explained that negotiations have begun with China to reduce the trade deficit, a popular talking point for Trump on the campaign trail.
Many advisers have argued that the tariffs will start an international trade war, and Gary Cohn, the former chief economic adviser to the president, reportedly resigned this week after failing to convince Trump to cancel the tariffs.
But the criticism over the order has done little to deter the president, who has insisted that the U.S. will win a trade war and that the benefits to the American economy will promote additional growth and curb the trend of companies moving operations outside the country.