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July 10, 2017

Is The Trump Administration Any Closer To Agreement On Section 232 Steel Remedies? It’s Unclear

As Connecting the Dots reported last week, the Trump Administration is now expected to release its Section 232 steel analysis some time later this month. According to press reports late last week, members of the administration are closer to, but still have not settled on which penalties the United States should pursue.

American Metal Market (subscription required) reported that President Donald Trump told attendees at Cabinet meeting last week that his preference is to impose a 25 percent duty on foreign steel as opposed to a mix of tariff and quotas. The latter penalty is supported by U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross and “nearly all of Trump’s senior advisers,” AMM’s sources said.

Meanwhile, another wrinkle in the investigation appeared last week: the U.S. Department of Defense is working on a similar report on steel imports’ effects on national security and it’s unclear whether this investigation will delay the released results of the Department of Commerce’s investigation. According to American Metal Market (subscription required), Defense Secretary James Mattis has ordered an assessment of the importance of the steel industry to national defense. That report is expected within 60 days. AMM’s sources said the Defense Department report might be used to support the Commerce Department’s findings if those “findings are challenged in U.S; courts or at the World Trade Organization (WTO) …”

The Canadian government continues its efforts to ensure steel exports from that country are exempt from any proposed penalties. Politico’s “Morning Trade” reported last week that the Canadian government issued a fact sheet explaining that the United States enjoys a steel and iron trade surplus with Canada. According to the fact sheet, Canada imported $2 billion more worth of steel and iron from the United States than it exported. According to the Canadian government, there also was a $542 million surplus for steel mill products. In its written testimony in the U.S. Commerce Department’s steel investigation, the Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) called for Canadian products to be exempt from any proposed penalties.