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July 16, 2018

U.S. Commerce Department Approves More 232 Exemptions

According to Argus Media, the U.S. Commerce Department has approved exemptions from its Section 232 steel tariffs for specialty steel products used by oil and gas companies. The exemptions apply to 243 metric tons of steel casing and production tubing that Shell uses for drilling wells in the Gulf of Mexico and to 50 metric tons of corrosion-resistant stainless steel tubing that Chevron uses. The waivers will last one year and apply only to these companies and these products. Click here to read more about the ruling.

The department also recently announced that it had okayed its first exemption from the Section 232 aluminum penalties, approving Illinois-based Mandel Metals Inc.’s application to exclude aluminum plate imported from China, Russia, South Africa, and other countries.

The Commerce Department is still working its way through more than 20,000 steel 232 exemption requests and more than 2,000 aluminum-product requests. According to Argus, the agency has processed only 241 requests.

The Commerce Department’s decisions (called BIS Decision Memos) regarding aluminum requests is found here while decisions regarding steel products are here.

As a reminder, the process for requesting a product 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 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.
  • 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 and distinct critical dimensions (covered by a common HTSUS subheading. Separate exclusion requests are required for aluminum products with distinct critical dimensions 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.
  • The Commerce Department 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.
  • 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.) Products are protected retroactively.