Feb. 13 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump, meeting with a bipartisan group of lawmakers on trade Tuesday, said he might impose tariffs or quotas.
During a 50-minute session at the White House with Republicans and Democrats, Trump complained about trade imbalances with Asian countries, including China, Japan and Korea.
He also described the United States as China's "piggy bank."
"We have rebuilt China with the money they've taken out of the United States," adding that other countries are "dumping and destroying our industries," and "we can't let that happen."
Trump noted how steel and aluminum dumping has hurt U.S. factories, and how many have been closed.
"I've been looking at them for two years as I went around campaigning," Trump said. "I want to keep prices down but I also want to make sure that we have a steel industry and an aluminum industry and we do need that for national defense.
"If we ever have a conflict we don't want to be buying steel for a country we are fighting. What we are talking about is tariffs and or quotas."
The president's words drew caution from some federal lawmakers.
"We need to be careful here that we don't start a reciprocal battle on tariffs," Sen. Roy Blount, R-Mo., said. "We make aluminum and we make steel in Missouri but we buy a lot of aluminum and we buy a lot of steel as well."
Last month, the Trump administration imposed a 30 percent tariff on solar panels and large washing machines. The tariffs, which will last four years, will gradually decrease to 15 percent after the first year -- and the first 2.5 gigawatts of imported solar cells will be exempt each year.
In the $28 billion solar industry, 80 percent of its parts are made abroad, mostly in Asian countries.
"We made a much better solar panel, but we couldn't compete," Trump said.
The Solar Energy Industries Association, a lobbying group for solar manufacturers, said the tariffs would increase prices and eliminate 23,000 jobs.