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Temporary Steel and Aluminum Tariff Exemptions Granted to EU, Six Others

Monday, March 26, 2018
Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg Trade Report

President Trump has temporarily suspended additional tariffs on steel and aluminum products with respect to imports from the 28 member countries of the European Union as well as Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Mexico, and South Korea. As a result, the tariffs of 25 percent and 10 percent, respectively, took effect at 12:01 a.m. March 23 with respect to shipments from all countries but those listed above. U.S. Customs and Border Protection notes that tariffs will be based on the country of origin and not the country of export.

Tariff Coverage. As a reminder, the following products are covered by the new tariffs, which are in addition to any other applicable duties, fees, exactions, and charges.

- steel articles classified under HTSUS 7206.10 through 7216.50, 7216.99 through 7301.10, 7302.10, 7302.40 through 7302.90, and 7304.11 through 7306.90, including any subsequent revisions to these HTSUS classifications

- the following aluminum articles: (a) unwrought aluminum (heading 7601); (b) aluminum bars, rods, and profiles (heading 7604); (c) aluminum wire (heading 7605); (d) aluminum plate, sheet, strip, and foil (flat rolled products) (headings 7606 and 7607); (e) aluminum tubes and pipes and tube and pipe fitting (headings 7608 and 7609); and (f) aluminum castings and forgings (HTSUS 7616.99.5160 and 7616.99.5170), including any subsequent revisions to these HTSUS classifications

Quotas Possible in Addition to Tariffs. The tariff suspensions will only remain in effect for goods that are entered or withdrawn from warehouse for consumption through the close of April 30. In the meantime, the president could direct U.S. Customs and Border Protection to implement a quota on steel and/or aluminum imports from any of the suspended countries “if necessary and appropriate” to ensure that such imports are not undermining “the national security objectives” of the tariffs (which appears to mean “not resulting in increased steel imports”). All imports of steel and/or aluminum articles from any such country since Jan. 1, 2018, would be taken into account in setting the amount of a quota.

Tariffs on Non-Exempt Countries May be Adjusted. A White House press release states that the tariff suspensions could be continued after May 1 depending on the status of discussions the U.S. will hold with these trading partners on “satisfactory long-term alternative means to address the threatened impairment to U.S. national security” by imports of covered steel and aluminum products from these countries. If the suspensions are extended, the president will consider whether to adjust tariffs on imports from non-exempted countries.

Additional Exclusions. The press release adds that the president could also suspend the steel and aluminum tariffs with respect to other countries and that any country not currently suspended “remains welcome to discuss a possible suspension with the United States based on a shared commitment to addressing global excess steel and aluminum capacity and production.”

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