President Trump Announces Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum Imports

Overview


In Depth


President Trump announced on March 1, 2018, that sometime this week or next, the Trump Administration will place 25 percent tariffs on all steel imports and 10 percent tariffs on all aluminum imports. The tariffs come after the Department of Commerce issued steel and aluminum reports under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 finding that imports of these products “threaten to impair national security.” While the Administration has said the tariffs will be imposed on all steel and aluminum imports, with no country exemptions, senior Administration officials are emphasizing that the “technical details” of the official announcement have yet to be resolved and may differ from the president’s announcement.

“Appeal” Process: The Administration has indicated that US parties will have recourse to an “appeal” process, which allows petitions to the Secretary of Commerce to exclude specific products from coverage based on a demonstration of either a lack of sufficient US capacity to produce comparable products or a specific national security justification for the exclusion. Affected businesses should begin marshaling their arguments.

Domestic Response: Much of the business community and numerous Capitol Hill Republicans have criticized the tariff announcement and urged the president not to advance with the plan. GOP leadership has not ruled out taking action to try to limit the new measures. Several Capitol Hill offices are also urging the Administration to consider country and product carve-outs.

International Response: The European Union, China, South Korea, Mexico, Canada and other countries have threatened reprisals against a range of US exports. The European Union, for example, has warned it will retaliate against more than $3 billion of US goods. A number of foreign supplying countries have also announced they will launch a World Trade Organization challenge against any new steel or aluminum measures.

McDermott is actively engaged in this issue and can assist McDermott clients affected by the announcement. Please contact any of the authors to seek assistance or learn more.