NAFEM and others request termination of Section 232 metals tariffs; new exclusion process could delay action

According to the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU), of which NAFEM is a member, companies report record high steel prices and delivery times of 12-16 weeks. To address this untenable situation, CAMMU wrote a letter to President Biden requesting that he terminate the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports immediately. In the letter, CAMMU pointed out that steel consuming industries that employ more than 6.8 million workers already face significant challenges due to the pandemic. CAMMU also requested that the administration re-engage U.S. trading partners to address the issues of excel steel and aluminum capacity in China.

“The Trump steel tariffs have hurt small, family-owned manufacturers and the communities in which they built their businesses, while fracturing relations with overseas trading partners and spurring a frenzy of retaliatory trade measures – with little to nothing to show for it at home,” CAMMU stated.

Late last year, the U.S. Department of Commerce (DOC) granted general approved exclusions (GAEs) to certain categories of steel and aluminum products. Products with GAEs, primarily those that received no objections to exclusion requests, are exempt from import tariffs. Manufacturers of these products no longer need to apply for exclusion requests, which is expected to decrease requests by about 5,000 annually. While GAEs streamline the exclusion process, they also could delay the Biden administration’s urgency to act on the Section 232 tariffs. For example, President Biden overturned President Trump’s last-minute decision to remove Section 232 tariffs on aluminum imported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), citing ongoing national security concerns. Aluminum is the UAE’s largest export to the U.S.

During her nomination hearing for secretary of commerce, Rhode Island Governor Gina Raimondo said, “Should I be confirmed, I plan to aggressively help Americans compete against the unfair practices of China. The president has been very clear, we need to step back, review broadly our trade policies as they relate to China, and consult with our allies. I also commit to you that I will ensure that that exclusions process is swift, fair, objective and helps to balance competing interests.”