On March 8, 2018, President Trump formally announced and signed the proclamations to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports pursuant to Section 232 of the US Trade Expansion Act of 1962. In those Proclamations, the President indicated that a process would be established by the Department of Commerce (DOC), whereby requests for product exclusions from the Section 232 duties could be requested.

On March 19, 2018, the DOC published in the Federal Register (FR) the process for parties to submit requests for exclusions from Presidential Proclamations 9704 and 9705 on Adjusting Imports of Steel and Aluminum into the United States under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. See 83 FR 12106. In that FR notice, the DOC also provided that the effective date of any exclusion requests that were granted would be the date on which the request was posted by the DOC for public comment. As of May 18, 2018, over 3,700 requests for steel product exclusions, and over almost 300 requests for aluminum product exclusions, have been posted, with more being added on a daily basis.

Although the DOC has not yet issued any product exclusions, Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a notice on May 21, 2018, providing guidance on the manner in which imports whose exclusion requests are approved by the DOC should be entered in order to avoid the Section 232 duties. See CSMS #18-000352. This notice provides the following key points:

  • The process to claim exclusions will be available starting June 1.
    • Prior to that, one must make a post summary correction (PSC) to apply the exemption.
  • Importers and filers importing products granted an exclusion should submit the product exclusion number based on the last six digits of the product exclusion docket number (e.g., BIS-XXXX-XXXX-XXXX) found in the steel and aluminum exclusion request docket folders.
  • The product exclusion number should be submitted in the Importer Additional Declaration Field (54 record) of the entry summary data, based on the following format, where “XXXXXX” represents the last six digits of the BIS docket number (see links above):
    • For excluded steel mill articles = STLXXXXXX
    • For excluded aluminum articles = ALUXXXXXX Note: Do not include spaces or special characters, such as hyphens. For example, according to CBP, exclusion number BIS-2018-0009-9002 should be submitted as “STL099002.”
  • Only products from importer(s) designated in the product exclusion approved by the DOC are eligible for the exclusion from the Section 232 measures.
    • Steel importers are reminded to submit mill certificates with their import data as required by 19 CFR 141.89.
  • Do not submit the corresponding Chapter 99 HTS number for the Section 232 duties when the product exclusion number is submitted.
  • Effective Date of Exclusions: Exclusions granted by DOC are retroactive on imports to the date the request for exclusion was posted for public comment.
  • Refund Requests: To request an administrative refund for previous imports of excluded products granted by DOC, importers may file a PSC and provide the product exclusion number in the Importer Additional Declaration Field.
  • GSP and AGOA-eligible Goods: Once products are excluded from the Section 232 measures, importers may claim Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) or African Growth and Opportunity Act (AGOA) duty preferences on GSP and AGOA-eligible goods.
    • If importers did not receive GSP or AGOA duty preferences on previous imports, and those imports are now covered by a retroactive exclusion, importers may request a refund of the duties subject to GSP or AGOA preferences through a PSC.