On Thursday, March 1, 2018, President Trump announced that his administration will impose a tariff of 25 percent on imports of steel and a tariff of 10 percent on imports of aluminum. These remedies are the result of the Department of Commerce’s determinations pursuant to section 232 of the 1962 Trade Expansion Act that imports of steel and aluminum are threatening to impair the national security.
President Trump’s announcement comes less than two weeks after Secretary Ross released public versions of the U.S. Department of Commerce’s reports outlining the agency’s findings and recommendations concerning its section 232 investigations of steel and aluminum imports. The timing of the President’s announcement reflects the importance the administration has attached to these investigations as the President was not required to make a decision on the Department’s recommendations until April 11, 2018 for steel imports and April 19, 2018 for aluminum imports.
The announcement clears up some questions concerning the remedies the administration will impose but also leaves many open. For example, the announcement does not indicate whether the remedies will apply to imports from all countries or whether imports from certain countries will be exempt. Also uncertain is the duration of relief.
Additionally, President Trump’s announcement did not specify a process by which interested parties can request exclusions for certain products. Under the Department’s recommendation, however, U.S. parties would be permitted to seek an exclusion from the relevant remedy for identified products and Secretary Ross would consider such exclusion requests based on “(1) lack of sufficient U.S. production capacity of comparable products; or (2) specific national security based considerations.” Additionally, the Department recommends that exclusion requests be subject to a public comment period and that determinations on applications be completed within 90 days.
Additional details concerning the scope of the remedies and any exclusion process are expected in the coming days.