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January 1, 2019

Congress Takes Aim At Steel And Aluminum Tariffs

Despite being preoccupied with the partial government shutdown, a bipartisan group of lawmakers sent a letter in December to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer asking that the Trump administration end the Section 232 tariffs on imports from Canada and Mexico. The letter argued, “American farmers, manufacturers, workers, and consumers will continue to be harmed, especially by the retaliatory measures, until an agreement is reached to lift the tariffs.”

The lawmakers said Ambassador Lighthizer should “put the highest priority on lifting the steel and aluminum tariffs and retaliation entirely as soon as possible.” The Metals Service Center Institute made this argument repeatedly over the course of 2018.

Right before lawmakers sent the letter, the Government Accountability Office, often referred to as Congress’s “watchdog,” announced plans to examine the Trump administration’s Section 232 tariff exclusion process. Raising concerns about the transparency, pace, and fairness of the process, a bipartisan group of senators had requested the review.

While U.S. lawmakers continue to the debate the tariffs, Reuters reported the Indian government is in talks with the U.S. government over exemptions on steel tariffs and with the Canadian government over its metals quotas and tariffs. Additionally, the United Kingdom reported steel exports to the United States have fallen more than 20 percent since the penalties came into effect. Chinese steel production, meanwhile, has risen 8.3 percent.