June 12, 2017

What To Watch For This Week: Trump Administration Expected To Issue Section 232 Steel Report

American Metal Market (subscription required) reported late on Friday that the Trump administration is likely to release the findings in its Section 232 steel investigation. (As a reminder, in this investigation the U.S. Commerce Department is looking into how steel imports into the United States affect the nation’s national security. Click here for Connecting the Dots’ original story.) AMM said the report could come as early as today, Monday, June 12, and is “likely to conclude that imports do pose a threat to national security.” 

The Metals Service Center Institute (MSCI) submitted written comments to the U.S. Commerce Department in this investigation. Those comments, and MSCI’s press release, are available here. In its comments, MSCI argued that, because of the impressive success NAFTA has had building integrated metals trading in the hemisphere, metal imports from Canada and Mexico should be expressly excluded from any trade penalties resulting from the 232 investigations. Sources told AMM, the U.S. Commerce Department’s report is likely to agree and is “unlikely to target products from Canada and Mexico, assuming this country's NAFTA partners agree to work more closely with their U.S. counterparts to counter duty-evasion practices such as transshipment …” 

As Politico explains, in a congressional hearing earlier in the week, U.S. Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said penalties that the department is considering in its Section 232 steel investigation include:

  • Imposing tariffs on top of any anti-dumping or countervailing duties already imposed on imports
  • Setting quotas restricting the volume of imports from individual countries; or
  • Using a combination of the two, known as a tariff-rate quota.

After the Commerce Department report is released, President Donald Trump has 90 days to decide whether he agrees with the department’s recommendations and then 15 days to decide on a course of action. 

In a speech Wednesday, President Trump seemed to promise strong action. He said, “Wait until you see what I'm going to do for steel and for your steel companies … We’re going to stop the dumping, and stop all of these wonderful other countries from coming in and killing our companies and our workers. You'll be seeing that very soon. The steel folks are going to be very happy.”