Administration Announces Application of Section 232 Tariffs on EU, Canadian and Mexican Imports; Trading Partners Announce Potential $39 Billion in Retaliation

Information from the National Association of Manufacturers – 

Commerce Department Announces Application of Section 232 Tariffs on EU, Canadian and Mexican Imports  

On March 31, Commerce Secretary Ross announced the application of section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Canada, Mexico and the European Union starting on June 1, after negotiations failed to yield sufficient results for the U.S. administration. This action terminates the previous suspension of these tariffs announced on April 30 and means that 25 percent tariffs on steel products and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum products are being imposed on these imports from EU members states and our NAFTA partners starting today, June 1. As we’ve reported previously, these actions result from investigations undertaken by the administration pursuant to section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1932 into the national security implications of steel and aluminum imports.

The White House issued this statement after President Trump signed modifications to the original steel and aluminum proclamations that also clarified quota rules for Argentina and Brazil. As a result of yesterday’s actions:

  • 25 percent tariffs on steel products are being imposed on covered categories of imports from all countries, except Australia, Argentina, Brazil and Korea; and
  • 10 percent tariffs on aluminum products are being imposed on covered categories of imports from all countries, except Australia and Argentina.  

Korea had agreed to a quota arrangement on steel imports in March, alongside a deal to modify the Korea-U.S. (KORUS) Free Trade Agreement. More information on the Korea quota can be found through U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) postings here, here and here. Argentina has agreed to steel and aluminum quotas and Brazil has agreed to a steel quota as indicated in the updated proclamations. Australia has been indefinitely exempted from both steel and aluminum tariffs by agreeing to an undefined “alternative means to address the threatened impairment to [U.S.] national security” that is neither a tariff or a quota. CBP issued this notice on entry instructions yesterday. The proclamations set volume and value limitations of imports of each product that can be brought in on a quarterly basis, but information is not yet posted on the final quota levels for Argentina or Brazil. That information is expected to be posted today and can be found at CBP’s quota page here.  

The Commerce Department’s review of product exclusion requests for steel and aluminum products not available in the United States or needed for national security is continuing. More than 11,000 exclusion requests have been made public so far. 

Additional Trading Partners Solidify Retaliation Lists Against U.S. Exports

U.S. trading partners reacted strongly and negatively to the imposition of tariffs, with the EU indicating that it will proceed with retaliation and Canada and Mexico stating that they will also retaliate.

Overall, eight U.S. trading partners – the EU, Canada, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia and Turkey – have noticed retaliation against the United States potentially impacting approximately $39 billion in U.S. exports overseas, including a high proportion of U.S. manufactured goods, from steel and aluminum products to motorcycles and vehicles to processed food and distilled spirits. China’s retaliatory tariffs have been imposed since April and other tariffs are scheduled to take effect as early as June 20. The NAM prepared this summary of proposed retaliatory actions, identifying where possible the actual notice that includes specific products lines and tariffs that countries have made public. The NAM will be updating this document periodically as new information is available.

Many U.S. trading partners have also filed WTO challenges to the section 232 tariffs.

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