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US Steel Industry Hopeful Of New Steel Import Duties

Mike Godfrey,, Washington

17 January 2018

US manufacturers are optimistic that President Trump could impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports within the next three months, following the conclusion of a long-running Commerce investigation last week.

President Trump instructed Commerce to launch a comprehensive investigation into steel and aluminum imports in April 2017 on the grounds of national security. The investigation was conducted under Section 232, with Commerce tasked with determining whether the amount of steel and aluminum imported by the States is so excessive as to threaten national security.

When it was announced, the review drew criticism, with opponents arguing that Section 232 was being used as an avenue for the US to justify higher rates of trade duties on foreign steel – and in particular Chinese steel – given current overcapacity in global markets and restrictions under WTO rules on such tariffs otherwise.

On January 11, 2018, Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross formally submitted the results of the Department of Commerce's investigation to President Trump, who now has 90 days to decide on whether to take action. Possible measures could include tariffs, import restrictions, or both.

"The steel industry welcomes the news that the Secretary of Commerce has formally submitted his report to the President in the Section 232 investigation into the impact of steel imports on the national security," said Thomas J Gibson, President and CEO of the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), on January 12. "We are confident that we have made the case that the repeated surges in steel imports in recent years threaten to impair our national security and we look forward to the President's decision on the appropriate actions to address this critical situation."

However, lobby groups including the National Taxpayer's Union (NTU) have opposed the initiative. In December 2017 the NTU called on Commerce to halt its investigation, claiming that imposing tariffs would be "an economically inefficient solution to a narrow problem."

"Restricting commerce through tariffs would increase costs for existing manufacturers who rely on lower-priced steel and aluminum imports. Any change in the delicate supply chain will increase the final cost of production, which would, in turn, raise costs for consumers," said the group in an open letter to Secretary Ross published on December 12, 2017. "Restricting imports of steel or aluminum via Section 232 would only encourage America's trading partners to use similar tactics to block the exports of US goods, open the door to trade battles, and discourage imports of needed goods."

TAGS: tax | mining | export duty | commerce | law | tariffs | anti-dumping | World Trade Organisation (WTO) | trade disputes | United States | import duty | trade | Tax

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