President Trump issued two Presidential Proclamations on March 8, 2018 increasing the import tariff on certain articles of steel and aluminum. The proclamations were issued in response to the Section 232 Reports that were submitted by the Commerce Department to the President in January 2018 in accordance with the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended (19 U.S.C. 1862). Specifically, the reports stated that—

  • The present quantities of steel article imports and the global excess capacity for producing steel are weakening the U.S. internal economy resulting in the persistent threat of closures of domestic steel production facilities and the shrinking of the United States’ ability to meet national security production requirements in a national emergency. The Secretary of Commerce recommended a global tariff of 24% on imports of steel articles to reduce imports to a level that would enable domestic steel producers to use approximately 80% of existing domestic production capacity and achieve long-term economic viability through increased production.
  • The present quantities of aluminum imports and the global excess capacity for producing aluminum are weakening the U.S. internal economy leaving the United States almost totally reliant on foreign producers of primary aluminum and at risk of becoming completely reliant on foreign producers of high-purity aluminum that is essential for key military and commercial systems. The Secretary of Commerce recommended a global tariff of 7.7% on imports of aluminum articles to reduce imports to a level that would enable domestic aluminum producers to use approximately 80% of existing domestic production capacity and achieve long-term economic viability through increased production.

On March 23, 2018, the tariff rates assessed on imports of the covered aluminum products will be increased to 10% ad valorem, and tariff rates on the covered steel products will be increased to 25% ad valorem. These rates will be applied to imports of the covered products from all countries except for Canada and Mexico.

The covered steel products are those that are classified in the following Harmonized System (HTSUS) classification provisions:

  • HTSUS Subheadings 7206.10 – 7216.50;
  • HTSUS Subheadings 7216.99 – 7301.10;
  • HTSUS Subheading 7302.10;
  • HTSUS Subheadings 7302.40 – 7302.90; and,
  • HTSUS Subheadings 7304.10 – 7306.90.

The covered aluminum products are those that are classified in the following HTSUS classification provisions:

  • Unwrought aluminum in HTSUS Heading 7601;
  • Aluminum bars, rods and profiles in HTSUS Heading 7604;
  • Aluminum wire in HTSUS 7605;
  • Aluminum plate, sheet, strip and foil (flat rolled products) in HTSUS 7606 and 7607;
  • Aluminum tubes and pipes and tube and pipe fittings in HTSUS 7608 and 7609; and,
  • Aluminum castings and forgings in HTSUS Subheadings 7616.99.5160 and 7616.99.5170.

Both proclamations state that the Administration will implement a formal process whereby parties may request relief and exclusion from the adjusted tariffs. To be granted such relief, they will be required to show either that: (a) their products are not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality; or (b) there is a specific national security-based reason warranting exclusion from the new rates. On March 18, 2018, the Secretary of Commerce will issue procedures for the submission of requests for relief and exclusion from the adjusted tariffs.

If you have any questions pertaining to the scope of the Presidential Proclamations, the new aluminum and steel tariffs, or require information on other international trade issues, please contact Melissa Proctor at Miller Proctor Law PLLC (melissa@millerproctorlaw.com).