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Trump Imposes Duties on Imports of Steel & Aluminum



President Donald Trump declared Thursday that next week he will sign a measure to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to “protect national security.”

Trump said the measure will levy additional duties of 25 percent on steel and 10 percent on aluminum imports. Those tariffs, he said, will remain for “a long period of time.” Trump’s statement implies he will impose these tariffs on imported steel and aluminum products from ALL countries, but it was not immediately clear if the tariffs would exempt certain trading partners. At this time, it is also not clear when this measure will go into effect, but is likely to go into effect soon after it is signed by the President next week.

Trump’s decision to impose additional tariffs on steel and aluminum is based on a “Section 232 report” by the U.S. Department of Commerce released by Secretary Wilbur Ross. The report outlines the department’s investigations into the impact on our national security from imports of steel mill products and from imports of wrought and unwrought aluminum.

These investigations were carried out under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, as amended. A summary of the report can be found here. Although the report recommended various options to the President for applying punitive tariffs, the President apparently decided to impose a 25% import tariff against steel and 10% against aluminum from all countries, which is higher than what the department had recommended. The tariffs would be in addition to any duties already in place.

The report recommends that a process be put in place to allow the Secretary to grant requests from U.S. companies to exclude specific products if the U.S. lacks sufficient domestic capacity or for national security considerations. Any exclusions granted could result in changed tariffs or quotas for the remaining products to maintain the overall effect.

For this measure, the product scope from the Steel Report covers steel mill products (“steel”) which are defined at the Harmonized System (“HS”) 6-digit level as: 720610 through 721650, 721699 through 730110, 730210, 730240 through 730290, and 730410 through 730690, including any subsequent revisions to these HS codes.

These HS codes include:

(1) Carbon and Alloy Flat Product (Flat Products): Produced by rolling semi-finished steel through varying sets of rolls. Includes sheets, strips, and plates.

(2) Carbon and Alloy Long Products (Long Products): Steel products that fall outside the flat products category. Includes bars, rails, rods, and beams.

(3) Carbon and Alloy Pipe and Tube Products (Pipe and Tube Products): Either seamless or welded pipe and tube products. Some of these products may include stainless as well as alloy other than stainless.

(4) Carbon and Alloy Semi-finished Products (Semi-finished Products): The initial, intermediate solid forms of molten steel, to be re-heated and further forged, rolled, shaped, or otherwise worked into finished steel products. Includes blooms, billets, slabs, ingots, and steel for castings.

(5) Stainless Products: Steel products, in flat-rolled, long, pipe and tube, and semi-finished forms, containing at minimum 10.5 percent chromium and, by weight, 1.2 percent or less of carbon, offering better corrosion resistance than other steel.

The product scope from the Aluminum Report covers aluminum which is defined at the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) 4-digit level. The HTS codes covered by this report are listed in the Table below. In addition, two HTS codes at the ten digit level are included, covering aluminum castings and forgings.

HTS Code
Aluminum Description
Unwrought aluminum
Aluminum bars, rods and profiles
Aluminum wire
Aluminum plates, sheets, and strip, of a thickness exceeding 0.2mm (Note: This category includes can sheet for aluminum can packaging.)
Aluminum foil (whether or not printed, or backed with paper, paperboard, plastics or similar backing materials) of a thickness (excluding any backing) not exceeding 0.2mm
Aluminum tubes and pipes
Aluminum tube and pipe fittings
Other articles of aluminum: castings
Other articles of aluminum: forgings

If you are an importer of steel and aluminum products, you may wish to review whether you are importing products falling within the scope of these reports, and if so, assess how it may impact your business and begin to make plans accordingly.