Trade Cases

Leibowitz on Trade: Sections 301, 232 Heating Up

Written by Tim Triplett

Lewis Leibowitz, a trade attorney and contributor to Steel Market Update, offers the following update on trade issues in Washington affecting the steel industry:

• Section 301 Hearing on Proposed Tariffs: On May 16, the U.S. Trade Representative’s office will kick off three days of hearings on the proposed Section 301 tariffs on China announced in April. Comments on the tariffs will be accepted until May 22. The list of witnesses was published Monday and includes a large number of manufacturing companies that likely would suffer if these new proposed 25 percent tariffs were imposed on China. Several trade associations will be testifying, as well. These proposed tariffs include over 1,400 tariff lines—many of them products already covered by the separate Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum. For example, imports of alloy steel seamless pipe used in oil and gas drilling would be charged 25 percent tariffs, although they are already burdened with Section 232 tariffs (25 percent) and antidumping and countervailing duties on OCTG from China. On aluminum, the proposed tariffs would be in addition to any AD/CVD duties and the 10 percent Section 232 tariffs on aluminum imports (Chapter 76 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S.).

Product Exclusion Procedure a Hot-button Issue: Calls for a revamped product exclusion procedure in the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum continue to pour in. Companies, trade associations and members of Congress continue to press for a more rapid response.

Two articles are worthy of special mention: First, Borusan Mannesmann U.S. has filed about two dozen exclusion requests. The New York Times reported over the weekend on the impact of the delay in response to these exclusion requests. The Borusan Mannesmann exclusion requests were filed more than 30 days ago. According to the website, a number of “comments” were filed on the Borusan exclusion requests, most likely objections. These comments are not yet posted on the website.

Second, Mary Buchzeiger, CEO of Lucerne International, a Michigan manufacturer of door hinges for automotive applications (including Jeep Wrangler) says her company is threatened with closure unless the Trump administration grants her exclusion request for the hinges imported from overseas. The article appeared in Automotive News this week.

A number of other studies suggest that job losses in the U.S. manufacturing sector will dwarf job gains in the steel and aluminum industries as a result of the tariffs. The Trade Partnership published a new study suggesting job losses of nearly 500,000 if the proposed Section 301 tariffs on $100 billion of Chinese exports to the U.S. go into effect.

Update on Product Exclusion Requests: So far, 65 requests have passed the 30-day mark, and comments are closed on those. There are still no reports of exclusions being approved by the Commerce Department, even those where no objections were submitted. Quite a few requests appear to have drawn no comments. There is still so much we do not know.

Lewis Leibowitz

The Law Office of Lewis E. Leibowitz
1400 16th Street, N.W.
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Washington, D.C. 20036

Phone: (202) 776-1142
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Cell: (202) 250-1551

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