February ’22 at-a-glance … taxes, tariffs & trade

Input needed for NAFEM comments on steel/aluminum exclusions process

The Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) issued a request for public comment on the Section 232 exclusions request process for steel and aluminum. NAFEM plans to submit comments and invites members to provide input to Charlie Souhrada by Monday, March 14.

Members of Congress advocate for Section 301 exclusion process

More than 130 members of Congress sent a letter to U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Katherine Tai requesting a “comprehensive, fair and transparent exclusion process to allow U.S. producers, manufacturers and importers to request relief – on a case-by-case basis – from all Section 301 tariffs on imports from China.” According to NAFEM’s Vice President, Regulatory and Technical Affairs Charlie Souhrada, CFSP, “”While it’s encouraging to see this movement from elected officials, we must remember that President Biden said at a recent news conference that he’s ‘not there yet’ on lifting Section 301 tariffs on China, citing the country’s failure to live up to its commitments in the Phase 1 trade deal.”

U.S. Japan reach agreement on steel tariffs

Beginning April 1, 54 categories of Japanese steel products melted and poured in Japan will be able to enter the U.S. without the 25 percent Section 232 tariff. The agreement remains in effect if the volume does not exceed historically based volumes, which will be evaluated annually.

“As we are already seeing with the U.S.-EU agreement where some steel products’ quota filled up for the year in the first two weeks of January, this type of government restriction can lead to market manipulations and puts this country’s smallest manufacturers at an even further disadvantage,” according to Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU), of which NAFEM is a member.

CAMMU urged the administration to include the same exclusion provisions provided for in the U.S.-EU agreement that automatically extend existing exclusions for two years and allow for new exclusions when quotas are met for product categories. The agreement does not address aluminum imports.

US & UK begin discussions on steel, aluminum tariff relief

The U.S. and U.K. announced the start of bilateral discussions to address U.S. Section 232 imports on steel and aluminum. “Resolving the dispute would benefit workers and businesses on both sides of the Atlantic and would remove the need for the U.K. to levy retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods,” said British trade minister Anne-Marie Trevelyan. In a joint statement, the U.S. and U.K. expressed their “commitment to working toward an expeditious outcome that ensures the viability of steel and aluminum industries in both markets against the continued challenge of global excess capacity.”

Decision pending in Section 301 tariff refund lawsuit

A U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT) three-judge panel heard oral arguments Feb. 1 in the Section 301 tariff refund case. The lawsuit alleges that Lists 3 and 4A of the Section 301 tariffs exceed the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) authority under the Trade Act. The government filed a motion to dismiss the case because the tariffs were “issued at the discretion of the president” and also are unreviewable as a “matter involving the foreign affairs of the U.S.”

“The judges didn’t seem to accept these arguments,” said Christine Sohar Henter, NAFEM legal counsel, Barnes & Thornburg. “It also was interesting that remedy was discussed in the oral arguments, which is rare at this stage.”

A decision is likely still a few months off.