The Department of Commerce released its reports recommending remedies with respect to the Section 232 investigations of steel and aluminum today, February 16. The steel report was submitted to the White House on January 11, 2018 and started a statutory 90-day clock for the President to make a decision on a course of action. The aluminum report was submitted on January 19, 2018 and similarly started the statutory 90 days for the decision.
In contrast to antidumping or countervailing duty investigations, Section 232 is a rarely-used statutory provision (19 U.S.C. § 1862) that determines whether imports are being made “in such quantities or under such circumstances” that those imports “threaten to impair the national security.” The statute does not define a threshold for when “such quantities” of imports are sufficient to threaten to impair the national security, nor does it define the “circumstances” that might qualify.
On steel, the report recommends several options involving tariffs and quotas:
- A global tariff of 24% or more on all imports of covered steel products;
- A targeted tariff of 53% or higher on covered steel imports from 12 countries (Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey, and Vietnam). All other countries would be subject to a quota equal to 100% of their 2017 exports to the U.S.
- Global quotas on all countries equal to 63% of their total 2017 exports to the U.S.
On aluminum, the report recommends three options:
- A global tariff of 7.7% or more on all imports of covered aluminum products;
- A targeted tariff of 23.5% on covered aluminum imports from China, Russia, Hong Kong, Venezuela and Vietnam. All other countries would be subject to a quota equal to 100% of their 2017 exports to the U.S.
- Global quotas on all countries equal to 86.7% of their total 2017 exports to the U.S.
The President is required to make a decision on the steel recommendations by April 11 and on the aluminum recommendations by April 19.