On March 8, 2018, the United States announced unprecedented tariff increases on all imports of steel(of 25 percent) and aluminum (of 10 percent) from any country except Canada and Mexico. The tariff increases will be effective from March 23 and remain in force indefinitely. The U.S. adopted the tariff increases on the basis of Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, after the U.S. Department of Commerce (USDOC) found that the current import volumes of steel and aluminum “threaten to impair [U.S.] national security.”
Exporting countries can negotiate country-specific exemptions from the tariff increases with the U.S. government. In addition, USDOC initiated a procedure for U.S. companies to request that certain steelor aluminum products be excluded from the tariff increases. An exclusion would apply only to the U.S. company that requested it (unless USDOC broadens the application of an exclusion). U.S. companies using steel or aluminum can file exclusion requests starting March 19.
The EU is negotiating with the U.S. to be exempted from the tariff increases. In parallel, the EU is proposing countermeasures, following a two-step process. The first step is suspending EU tariff concessions vis-à-vis the U.S. The second step is increasing tariffs on certain U.S. goods. The European Commission has listed the U.S. goods that the proposed EU countermeasures may target. The list includes a variety of products, such as steel and aluminum products, grains, whiskey and bourbon, tobacco, footwear and apparel articles, tableware and kitchenware, and motor vehicles and motorcycles.
To select the U.S. products to be targeted by the EU countermeasures and to frame the modalities of these countermeasures, the European Commission is gathering information from EU stakeholders. The European Commission asks all EU stakeholders affected by the U.S. tariff increase and/or any EU countermeasures to fill in questionnaires. The deadline for submitting the questionnaire responses is March 26, 2018.