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More Improvements Sought for Steel and Aluminum Tariff Exclusion Request Process

Wednesday, May 09, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

Following a similar letter from the two leading members of the Senate Finance Committee, dozens of members of the House of Representatives wrote to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross May 7 to request a number of improvements to the process of requesting product-specific exclusions from the additional tariffs President Trump imposed on imports of steel and aluminum as of March 23. The letter noted that thousands of exclusion requests have been filed to date but that as of May 4 the DOC had posted only about 1,600 of them for comment and issued no final determinations. The representatives concluded that the process is “moving far too slowly and … places a significant burden on manufacturers, especially small businesses.”

To improve the process, the members asked the DOC to take the following steps.

- extend relief retroactive to the date a request is submitted, not the date it is published for comment

- allow exclusions covering ranges of certain dimensions with the same HTSUS number

- allow trade associations to apply for exclusions for an industry

- take measures to protect sensitive information and trade secrets

- provide timely information to companies requesting exclusions, including status and anticipated wait time

- publish a frequently-asked questions page to clarify the exclusion process and highlight differences with the proposed Section 301 tariffs on imports from China

- incorporate the concept of grandfathering existing contracts in evaluating exclusion requests

- regularly review the impact of the tariffs on the economy and downstream users and implement a plan to end the tariffs if they prove to have a significant negative impact

- consider the needs of U.S. manufacturers for custom-made and other specialized steel and aluminum inputs, many of which are not available from domestic producers

- authorize all companies granted product exclusions to import tariff-free from any source country unless it is proven to be unfairly traded

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