Tariffs threatened for steel/aluminum imports from Brazil/Argentina

On Dec. 2, President Trump tweeted that the U.S. would impose Section 232 tariffs on steel imported from Brazil, and steel and aluminum imported from Argentina, in response to the countries devaluing their currencies. Both countries were not subject to the original Section 232 tariffs because of previously negotiated import quotas. Thus far, there has been no official government action to implement the tariffs. At last week’s Wall Street Journal CEO Council meeting, reinstating the tariffs was discussed, but no decision has been made, according to White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow.

According to a Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU) editorial, moving forward with the tariffs will likely lead to an immediate legal challenge. Previously, the U.S. Court of International Trade ruled against the president’s attempt to raise the tariff on Turkish steel imports to 50 percent. The Court ruled that Section 232 tariffs citing national security concerns must be applied within 90 days of the Department of Commerce’s Jan. 11, 2018 report. Additionally, the U.S. Treasury Department did not find that Brazil or Argentina were manipulating their currencies.

The CAMMU editorial also cites earlier research that Section 232 tariffs on imported steel and aluminum are hurting U.S. manufacturers and not helping the domestic steel industry.

Companies can apply for exclusions from Section 232 tariffs if a steel/aluminum product is not available domestically in sufficient quantity or quality. Requests are filed at the Department of Commerce’s (DOC) portal. DOC provides a user guide and Q&A .