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Donald Trump is putting steel imports from China and other foreign countries in the crosshairs.

The US president on Thursday signed an executive memorandum directing Wilbur Ross, the commerce secretary, to launch an investigation and report back on whether the US should impose restrictions on imports for national security reasons.

Mr Trump called the signing a “historic day for American steel”, adding that the administration would “fight for American workers and American-made steel, and that’s beginning immediately,” according to a pool report.

The review could be completed in as little as 50 days, Mr Trump said.

Steel imports have been a frequent flashpoint in US-China trade relations, with American companies accusing China of dumping cheap steel on US shores and undercutting domestic competition.

Mr Trump, however, denied that the order was singling out China, whose aid the US is hoping to enlist in confronting North Korea. “This has nothing to do with China,” Mr Trump told reporters, according to a pool report. “This has to do with worldwide, what’s happening. The dumping problem is a worldwide problem.”

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