Trade Cases

Leibowitz on Trade: Update on Section 232 on Automotive

Written by Tim Triplett

Lewis Leibowitz, trade attorney and contributor to Steel Market Update, offers the following commentary on the latest developments in Washington:

Today, the Commerce Department is conducting a hearing on the self-initiated Section 232 investigation into imports of autos and auto parts. The U.S. auto industry is uniformly opposed to tariffs on autos and auto parts. However, the president seems to be in favor of them. Yesterday, the president threatened “tremendous retribution” if auto and auto parts trade is not balanced more in favor of the U.S. Some critics of the tariffs have referred to today’s hearing as a “show trial.” There are reports that the president has asked for a Commerce decision before the November mid-term elections. 


In addition to automotive, the national security statute is being invoked for a fourth time (this time on uranium imports into the U.S.) because it is the easiest statute for the president to invoke without congressional approval. Congress is taking steps to require congressional approval of import remedies. Last week, a non-binding Senate resolution called on the president to consult with Congress before imposing import remedies that would hurt American industries and consumers who rely on imports.

This may be the last national security investigation for a while—but that is not clear by any means. Combined with the Section 301 actions on China, the imposition of tariffs and quotas on imports we have become used to may become a thing of the past. There may be more such investigations into other allegedly unfair acts and practices by U.S. trading partners. The aim appears to drive trading partners to negotiate trade deals more to the administration’s liking. Failing that (and there is little evidence that our trading partners are ready to negotiate), the tariffs could ultimately remake global supply chains.

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
Fax: (202) 861-2924
Cell: (202) 250-1551

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