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Steel Import Review Results Sent to White House but No Decision Yet on Response

Tuesday, January 16, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross submitted to President Trump Jan. 11 the results of the department’s section 232 investigation into the effect of steel mill product imports on U.S. national security. However, Ross said those results would only be made public once Trump announces his decision on whether to take action, which must be made within 90 days but could come sooner.

In April 2017 DOC self-initiated an investigation under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to determine whether foreign-made steel is being imported in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten or impair U.S. national security. If the DOC’s determination is affirmative, and the president concurs, he has the authority to adjust imports, including through the use of tariffs and quotas. Ross has said any such actions could affect “a very wide range of steel products and a very wide range of countries.” Any import adjustments, or any other non-trade-related actions the president may elect to take, would be imposed within 15 days of the president’s determination to act.

The president directed DOC to expedite this investigation and the results had been expected last summer. The delay has been attributed to disagreements within the administration on what, if any, measures to impose, particularly given opposition by downstream U.S. industries and concerns that national security-based import restrictions could spark retaliation by U.S. trading partners.

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