On March 8, 2018, President Trump signed two Presidential Proclamations, Presidential Proclamation on Adjusting Imports of Steel into the United States and Presidential Proclamation on Adjusting Imports of Aluminum into the United States pursuant to section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1862), imposing additional tariffs on importations of steel and aluminum products and modifying the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (HTSUS). The proclamations are virtually identical except for the product [steel or aluminum] and the tariff rate. The tariffs, of 25% for steel products and 10% for aluminum products, except from Canada or Mexico, were imposed based on a report and recommendations of the Secretary of Commerce (Secretary) who found that “the present quantities and circumstances of steel [and aluminum] articles imports threaten to impair the national security…” The actions are intended to “enable domestic steel [and aluminum] producers to use approximately 80 percent of existing domestic production capacity and thereby achieve long-term economic viability through increased production.”

Covered articles of steel

For purposes of the steel proclamation, “steel articles” are defined at the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) 6‑digit level as: 7206.10 through 7216.50, 7216.99 through 7301.10, 7302.10, 7302.40 through 7302.90, and 7304.10 through 7306.90, including any subsequent revisions to these HTS classifications.

Covered articles of aluminum

For the purposes of the aluminum proclamation, “aluminum articles” are defined in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) as: (a) unwrought aluminum (HTS 7601); (b) aluminum bars, rods, and profiles (HTS 7604); (c) aluminum wire (HTS 7605); (d) aluminum plate, sheet, strip, and foil (flat rolled products) (HTS 7606 and 7607); (e) aluminum tubes and pipes and tube and pipe fitting (HTS 7608 and 7609); and (f) aluminum castings and forgings (HTS 7616.99.51.60 and 7616.99.51.70), including any subsequent revisions to these HTS classifications.

Tariff schedule modifications and effective date

The proclamations modify subchapter III of chapter 99 of the HTSUS as provided in the Annexes [which were not available yet] to each proclamation. Except as otherwise provided in the proclamation, or in notices published pursuant to exemptions granted pursuant to clause 3 of the proclamation, all steel articles imports specified in the Annex shall be subject to an additional 25 percent ad valorem rate of duty and all aluminum articles shall be subject to an additional 10 per cent ad valorem rate of duty with respect to goods entered, or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption, on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 23, 2018. This rate of duty, which is in addition to any other duties, fees, exactions, and charges applicable to such imported steel and aluminum articles, shall apply to imports of steel and aluminum articles from all countries except Canada and Mexico.

Exclusions

The President agreed with a recommendation from the Secretary that he be authorized, in response to specific requests from affected domestic parties, to exclude from any adopted import restrictions those steel [or aluminum] articles for which the Secretary determines there is a lack of sufficient U.S. production capacity of comparable products, or to exclude steel [or aluminum] articles from such restrictions for specific national security-based considerations. The Secretary must promulgate procedures for requesting exemptions within 10 days from the date of the proclamation .

The request must come from an affected domestic producer. The Secretary must consult with the Secretary of State, the Secretary of the Treasury, the Secretary of Defense, the United States Trade Representative (USTR), the Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, the Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, and such other senior Executive Branch officials as the Secretary deems appropriate, in making a determination.

If the Secretary determines that a particular steel [or aluminum] article should be excluded, the Secretary must, upon publishing a notice of such determination in the Federal Register, notify Customs and Border Protection (CBP) concerning such article so that it will be excluded from the duties described in the proclamation. The Secretary shall consult with CBP to determine whether the HTSUS provisions created by the Annex to the proclamation should be modified in order to ensure the proper administration of such exclusion, and, if so, shall make such modification to the HTSUS through a notice in the Federal Register.

Exemptions by country

The proclamations state that any country with which we have a security relationship is welcome to discuss with the United States alternative ways to address the threatened impairment of the national security caused by imports from that country. Should the United States and any such country arrive at a satisfactory alternative means to address the threat to the national security such that the President determines that imports from that country no longer threaten to impair the national security, the President may remove or modify the restriction on steel [or aluminum] articles imports from that country and, if necessary, make any corresponding adjustments to the tariff as it applies to other countries as US national security interests require.

The President concluded that Canada and Mexico present a special case due to a shared commitment to supporting each other in addressing national security concerns, a shared commitment to addressing global excess capacity for producing steel, the physical proximity of the respective industrial bases, the robust economic integration between the countries, the export of steel [and aluminum] articles produced in the United States to Canada and Mexico, and the close relation of the economic welfare of the United States to our national security. The President determined that the necessary and appropriate means to address the threat to the national security posed by imports of steel and aluminum articles from Canada and Mexico is to continue ongoing discussions with these countries and to exempt steel and aluminum articles imports from these countries from the tariff, at least at this time.

For additional information, please contact any member of the US Customs practice with whom you normally work.

In CSMS# 18-000207 (Mar. 9, 2018), CBP advises that it expects to have the ACE production and certification environments updated with the new HTS records no later than Mar. 13, 2018.