Federal Register Notice published on April 26 provided additional information to industry on the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) investigation of steel imports and U.S. national security.

We learned a three-hour public hearing will be held on May 24 at DOC and that interested parties must request to speak by May 17. The requests need to include a written summary of the planned presentation. Written comments will also be accepted until May 31.

DOC provided a list of criteria it is interested in learning about, as they relate to national security:

  • Quantity of steel or other circumstances related to the importation of steel.
  • Domestic production and productive capacity needed for steel to meet projected national defense requirements.
  • Existing and anticipated availability of human resources, products, raw materials, production equipment, and facilities to produce steel.
  • Growth requirements of the steel industry to meet national defense requirements and/or requirements to assure such growth.
  • The impact of foreign competition on the economic welfare of the steel industry.
  • The displacement of any domestic steel causing substantial unemployment, decrease in the revenues of government, loss of investment or specialized skills and productive capacity, or other serious effects.
  • Relevant factors that are causing or will cause a weakening of the U.S. national economy.

Five general categories of steel are being looked at: flat products, long products, pipe and tube products, semi-finished products, and stainless products. The notice also refers to “specialty steel alloys that require unusual production skills and are used for armor, vehicles, ships, aircraft, and infrastructure.”

Because the scope remains overly broad, the Section 201 Steel Safeguard of 2001-2002 may serve as a general guide. The following categories of products were targeted in that proceeding:

  • Certain carbon flat-rolled steel, including carbon and alloy steel slabs.
  • Plate (including cut-to-length plate and clad plate).
  • Hot-rolled steel (including plate in coils).
  • Cold-rolled steel (other than grain-oriented electrical steel.
  • Corrosion-resistant and other coated steel.
  • Carbon and alloy hot-rolled bar and light shapes.
  • Carbon and alloy cold-finished bar.
  • Carbon and alloy rebar.
  • Carbon and alloy welded tubular products (other than oil country tubular goods).
  • Carbon and alloy flanges, fittings, and tool joints.
  • Stainless steel bar and light shapes.
  • Stainless steel rod.
  • Carbon and alloy tin mill products.
  • Stainless steel wire.

The measures imposed were subject to significant product exclusions. Pursuing a similar product-exclusion strategy in the new Section 232 proceeding will likely be important for affected companies.

The timeline for the steel proceeding is shown below.

Request to Appear at Public Hearing

May 17

Public Hearing

May 24

Submission of Post-Hearing Comments or other Written Comments

May 31

Completion of DOC investigation

January 15, 2018*

Presidential Determination

April 16, 2018*

President Informs Congress

May 16, 2018*

* At the latest

ALUMINUM

On April 27, President Trump directed an investigation into the impact of aluminum imports on U.S. national security.

This investigation is being held under the same authority as the previously announced probe on steel, section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (19 U.S.C. § 1862). As with steel, DOC is charged with determining whether aluminum is being imported into the U.S. in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair national security. DOC has 270 days to conduct its investigation and prepare a report on its findings for submission to the president.

The next step will be a Federal Register Notice providing information about the upcoming public hearing.

For more on section 232 investigations, please see Crowell’s Client Alert from the steel case.