February 15, 2021

President Biden Under Increased Pressure On 232 Metals Tariffs

S&P Global Platts reported that U.S. imports of primary aluminum fell 27 percent between December 2019 and December 2020. Shipments of unalloyed primary aluminum from Canada to the United States exceeded the quota level for the month even though December’s primary aluminum imports represented the second-lowest monthly total of 2020. (For all of 2020, total U.S. primary aluminum imports fell 13.8 percent.)

The news report reminded readers that, under an order signed in October 2020 by former President Donald Trump, the United States and Canada agreed to discuss the future of aluminum trade between the two countries if quotas were exceeded. Will that happen now that there is a new president in the White House?

S&P Platts said, “It remains unclear how President Joe Biden will address any further quota or tariff enforcement on Canadian aluminum.” Additionally, according to a
PBS Newshour report after President Biden spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping, President Biden “doesn’t appear ready to move quickly on discontinuing Trump’s trade war with China, which led to tariffs on their steel, aluminum and other goods.”

Indeed, it appears that President Biden “plans to leave the tariffs in place as his administration conducts a top-to-bottom review of trade policy.”

In related news, S&P Platts also reported that a group called the Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users sent a letter to President Biden on Feb. 10 requesting the immediate termination of Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs.

Connecting the Dots is reporting this information for MSCI members’ information only. As a reminder, MSCI consistently has argued that global overcapacity and other unfair trading practices, particularly by China, have harmed the U.S. steel and aluminum markets. To address this circumvention, in 2017 MSCI advised federal officials to provide relief for producers up and down the supply chain and to consider the consequences of any new trade policy, including: the economic impact of global overcapacity on the entire domestic metals supply chain; transition times and implementation rules to any new policy; availability of domestic metals to meet U.S. national security needs, as well as general industrial and consumer demand; and trade flows under current free trade agreements, including the United States Mexico Canada Agreement (USMCA). MSCI also asked that Canada and Mexico be excluded from any trade penalties.

Click here to review all of MSCI’s advocacy on Section 232 tariffs.

In other trade news: on Feb. 4, the U.S. Department of Commerce announced that it would impose preliminary antidumping duties on seamless carbon and alloy steel standard, line, and pressure pipe (seamless pipe) from the Ukraine, South Korea, and Russia. The duties took effect on Feb. 10 and range from 4.52 percent to 209.72 percent. The agency will issue final results of the administrative review within 135 days of publication of the preliminary results. Click here to find more information the International Trade Administration.