Trade Cases

Steel Product Exclusions Update

Written by Tim Triplett

This week, objections to steel product exclusion requests started to appear in the government website. 

First, an update on exclusions:

7,561 comments filed (not all of these are exclusion requests; there are some general comments.  However, most are likely exclusion requests or objections)

2,671 comments posted on the website, of which 21 are general comments.  The rest (2,650) appear to be exclusion requests. 

18 objections have been posted on the website to 10 exclusion requests. 

Objections have been filed by U.S. Steel, Nucor, AK Steel and a couple of other companies.  The objections claim that domestic steel producers can make products that were the subject of exclusion requests.  We do not know yet whether Commerce will ask for additional information or not.  One Nucor objection filed against three requests for stainless steel products frankly admitted that the company did not produce the particular product, but criticized the requesting party for not being specific enough about the reasons for asking for an exclusion. 

“While Nucor acknowledges that it does not produce the products in question, the Department of Commerce (“Commerce”) should reject Midas’ requests for failure to provide a sufficient basis for granting an exclusion.”

Arguably, this objection should not be considered, because Nucor has no stake in whether the exclusion is granted or not on these particular products. 

As yet we don’t know whether exclusion request that drew no opposition would automatically be granted.  There are several requests with no objections and on which the comment period is closed.  We should find out soon.

Another uncertainty is how requesters (and the public) will be informed of the disposition of product exclusion requests. 

Members of Congress are hearing from constituents about the uncertainty and unfairness of the exclusion process.  Both House and Senate letters have gone to the Commerce Department.  Senators Ron Johnson (R-S.D.) and Claire McCaskell (D-Mo.) wrote a letter to Secretary Ross asking for detailed information supporting the “national security” finding that underlays the entire tariff and quota process.  No response has been released to this letter as yet.

Country Discussions

June 1 is the deadline for the exemptions for the European Union, Canada and Mexico.  There is no discernible progress on any negotiations for an alternative to the tariffs.  For companies that rely on global supply chains, the tariffs may be superior to a quota deal such as the South Korean one, which has quotas that are “absolute.”  If the quota limit for any steel product is reached, no more may come into the country for consumption. 

Lewis Leibowitz
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