On March 22, 2018, the President issued new Proclamations temporarily exempting imports from certain countries from the steel and aluminum tariffs that were announced in Proclamations 9704 and 9705 of March 8, 2018. The President had previously exempted imports from Canada and Mexico and the new Proclamations add exemptions for imports from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, European Union member countries, and South Korea. However, the Proclamations make clear that the exemptions, including the exemptions for Canada and Mexico, are temporary and that tariffs will go into effect on imports from an exempted country on May 1, 2018 unless the country has reached an agreement with the United States on an alternative means to remove the threat to national security posed by imports of steel articles from the country. If any agreements are reached and any countries are exempted on a long term basis, the President will consider adjustments to the tariff level imposed on non-exempt countries.
In the meantime, the President may consider quotas on imports from exempt countries. If a quota is imposed, the quota amount imposed will take into account all imports of steel and aluminum since January 1, 2018.
While the country exemptions may extend beyond May 1, depending on the progress on trade negotiations, there is no guarantee of such extensions.
The new Proclamations provide for some retroactivity for product exclusions granted by the U.S. Department of Commerce. The Proclamations provide that an exclusion granted by Commerce will be “retroactive to the date the request for exclusion was posted for public comment”.
The new Proclamations also provide that, in considering an exclusion request, the Secretary of Commerce may take into account “regional availability of particular articles, the ability to transport articles within the United States and any other factors as the Secretary deems appropriate.”
Foreign Trade Zones
For covered steel and aluminum products admitted to a foreign trade zone (FTZ) on or after March 23, the tariffs will apply upon entry for consumption. The tariffs may also apply to steel and aluminum articles admitted to an FTZ before March 23, 2018 when it is entered for consumption depending on how it was admitted to the FTZ. Specifically, the Proclamations provide that steel or aluminum articles admitted to a foreign trade zone on or after 12:01 a.m. eastern daylight time on March 23, 2018 must be admitted in “privileged foreign status” and will be subject to applicable tariffs upon entry for consumption. Furthermore, any steel or aluminum articles that were admitted into a foreign trade zone under “privileged foreign status” prior to March 23, 2018, will likewise be subject to applicable tariffs upon entry for consumption.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) issued a message on March 22, 2018 explaining the entry requirements and indicating that as of May 1, 2018 all countries will be covered by the tariffs. Customs states that whether the tariffs apply depends on the country of origin and not the country of export and that antidumping and countervailing duties may also apply. The message also explains the requirements for steel and aluminum articles entered into foreign trade zones. The CBP message can be found here.