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September 3, 2018

President Tries To Improve Section 232 Exemption Process

On Wednesday, Aug. 29, President Donald Trump signed proclamations making several changes to the U.S. Commerce Department’s process for granting exemption to the Section 232 steel and aluminum penalties imposed by his administration earlier this year. These changes are meant to allow the department to:

  • Grant product exclusions for products that are from countries subject to quotas, just as it can do for products from other countries;
  • Allow for limited grandfathering of certain contracts to import steel or aluminum that were entered into prior to the announcement of Section 232 tariffs on March 8, 2018; and
  • Extend retroactivity of relief from product exclusion to the date that the request for relief was accepted by the Department of Commerce instead of the date the application was posted, as was previously the case.

The full proclamation for steel is available here and the proclamation is here.

The same day President Trump signed these proclamations, Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) asked the Commerce Department’s lead investigator to look into the agency’s exemption process. Sen. Warren argued the agency had made “troubling” decisions, including exempting products from a U.S. subsidiary of a sanctioned Russian company. Read more details here. The questions about the process could escalate if Sen. Warren’s party takes over the Senate and House after this fall’s midterm congressional elections.