This morning, The Nonpartisan Policy Alliance attended a fascinating panel discussion which brought together such policy experts as U.S. Army Brigadier General (retired) John Adams, International Vice President of the United Steelworkers Thom Conway, Congressman James Comer of Kentucky, CEO of Century Aluminum Mike Bless, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich. Clearly, this must have been an important topic.
Indeed, the panel met to discuss the threat to national security posed by China's deliberate efforts to eliminate American competition in the production of aluminum, steel, and solar panels. Both aluminum and steel have tremendous national security significance as they are used in countless military vehicles and weapon systems.
China's strategy is to prop up their steel and aluminum companies with subsidies and cash injections straight from the government. As a result, Chinese companies do not need to worry about profit, productivity, or efficiency. Government backing allows them to sell their products well below market price.
In other words, the government is paying the bills so their companies can stay afloat with government money, not profit. This is fatal to American private businesses that make their money from selling their products at a reasonable price in the free market, not from government handouts.
If China continues in this endeavor (which they certainly will), they will become the global supplier of materials that are critical to American national defense. Hey China, can we have some steel to make American battleships that we will station around the South China Sea? Guess what their answer will be.
President Trump is expected to take action on this issue later this month. These panelists and many others will be watching his actions closely. We at the Nonpartisan Policy Alliance agree that this is a very serious concern. We would simply add that there are numerous policies in our agenda which are comparably critical to national security. We have only 14 manufacturing institutes while China recently announced that they plan to create more than 90. If we fail to stay ahead of our rivals in terms of manufacturing innovation, then our military capabilities will become inferior. Additionally, we advise that the role of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States be expanded to address soft power targets like media outlets and that the Secretary of Transportation be added to the Committee.