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US Opens Steel, Aluminum Tariffs to Exclusions

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

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Days before new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports into the U.S. go into effect, the Department of Commerce announced Monday how companies seeking to bring steel or aluminum into the country without the extra charge might appeal to do so.

Firms who successfully argue that the material they need from abroad is not produced in the U.S. “in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality” could receive an exclusion from the Secretary of Commerce. The proclamation, published Monday in the Federal Register, also allows for exceptions based on national security.

Steel pipes
© iStock.com / zhaojiankang

U.S. companies can now apply for exclusions from the steel and aluminum import tariffs set to go into effect Friday.

“These procedures will allow the administration to further hone these tariffs to ensure they protect our national security while also minimizing undue impact on downstream American industries,” said Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross. “Starting tomorrow, domestic industry will be able to apply for exclusions through a fair and transparent process run through Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security.”

Organizations will also be able to file objections to the exclusion requests, which will be published online and subject to a 30-day comment period.

Tariff Background

The tariffs, announced earlier this month, apply to steel and aluminum imports coming from any country other than Canada or Mexico. President Donald J. Trump, in introducing the new rules, noted that in the future other countries may be exempted on a case-by-case basis. The duty on steel imports is 25 percent; the duty on aluminum is 10 percent. The tariffs go into effect Friday (March 23).

Companies seeking an exclusion from the tariffs must submit a form now available via the regulations.gov website, detailing the type of steel needed based on dimensions, certain properties and chemical composition. The applicant must list the foreign manufacturer they use or plan to use, and any U.S. manufacturer that makes or is capable of making the same product. If there is none, the applicant must explain what about the product sets it apart from products made in the U.S.

Tariff Concerns

The tariffs, while praised by U.S. steel and aluminum manufacturers, have come under criticism from groups like the Associated General Contractors of America, who fear that increased steel costs will adversely affect contractors on infrastructure and other construction jobs.

“Boosting demand for their products is a much better way to strengthen the domestic steel and aluminum industries,” Stephen E. Sandherr, AGC’s chief executive officer, said last week. “And the best way to boost demand is to finally [make] the investments needed to improve the nation’s aging and over-burdened infrastructure.”


Tagged categories: Aluminum; Carbon Steel; Department of Commerce; Government; Stainless steel

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