May 1, 2018

Trump Administration Extends 232 Exemptions For Allies For One Month

In the days after President Donald Trump announced his Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs, his administration worked to temporarily exempt 33 countries from the penalties. Most of those exemptions, including those for Canada, Mexico, and the nations of the European Union (EU), were set to expire at 12:00 a.m. on Tuesday, May 1. About four hours before that deadline, the Trump administration announced that it had extended the exemptions for another month, until June 1.

Administration officials want the exempted countries to agree to quotas on imports in place of the tariffs. The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that the White House has agreed to quota deals “in principle” with Argentina, Brazil, and Australia, but details have not yet been finalized.

South Korean products already had been given permanent exemption from the tariffs because the country already agreed to quotas. The European Union had threatened to retaliate if its countries did not win permanent exemption. (The EU also put into place last week a system to monitor imports of aluminum into its countries.)

Meanwhile, requests for product exemptions continue to pour into the U.S. Department of Commerce. So far, the department has received more than 500 requests regarding the aluminum tariffs and more than 5,700 regarding the steel tariffs. As a reminder, the process for requesting an exclusion is as follows:

  • All exclusion requests must be submitted through regulations.gov. The steel docket number is BIS-2018-0006. The aluminum docket number is BIS-2018-0002.
  • Only individuals or organizations using the steel or aluminum articles in business activities in the United States may submit exclusion requests. Requestors must have an Employer Identification Number or a Customs and Border Protection Import Number.
  • Any individual or enterprise in the United States may file an objection to exclusion requests. Steel objection forms are here; aluminum forms are here.
  • A separate exclusion request “must be submitted on each distinct type and dimension” of the steel or aluminum product to be imported. Separate exclusion requests are required for products “with chemistry by percentage breakdown by weight, metallurgical properties, surface quality (e.g., galvanized, coated, etc.), and distinct critical dimensions (e.g., 0.25-inch rebar, 0.5-inch rebar; 0.5-inch sheet, or 0.75 sheet) covered by a common HTSUS subheading.” Separate exclusion requests are required for aluminum products “with distinct critical dimensions (e.g., 10 mm diameter bar, 15 mm bar, or 20 mm bar) covered by a common HTSUS statistical reporting number.” For both steel and aluminum, separate exclusion requests must also be submitted for products falling in more than one 10-digit HTSUS statistical reporting number.
  • There is no time limit for exclusion requests, but objections to exclusion requests must be submitted 30 days after the exclusion requests are posted on regulations.gov.
  • Approved exclusions are made only for the product requested imported by the individual or organization making the request, unless the Commerce Department approves a broader exclusion. Subsequent requests by other individuals or enterprises may be made for the same product type through new supplements. As Politico’s “Morning Trade” explains, this means “a product excluded for one company is not excluded for another unless the second company has also requested and received an exclusion.”
  • The Commerce will review any exclusion request, even if a request for the same product was previously denied.
  • Companies with business confidential Information should indicate on the form that they have such information.
  • Review of exclusion requests will generally take place within 90 days.
  • Exclusions will generally be approved for only one year.

The department also has published special information regarding exemptions from the steel tariffs—those instructions are available here—and for the aluminum tariffs. (The aluminum instructions are at this link.) In a hearing on Capitol Hill last month, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross promised that any products that are excluded would be protected retroactively. This differs from the forms originally posted by the Commerce Department that had indicated tariff relief would be effective five business days after the approval is posted on www.regulations.gov.