Service Centers

Section 232 Appeal a Frustrating Process for Priefert

Written by Tim Triplett

The good news is that the Commerce Department has finally approved Priefert Manufacturing’s request to exclude one of its products from the Section 232 tariff. The bad news is that the company still may never see a refund of the $700,000 it has paid out in unfair duties.

Priefert Manufacturing is a service center and manufacturer of ranching equipment based in Mt. Pleasant, Texas. Chris Shipp, Priefert’s Vice President of Supply Chain, expressed his frustration with the tariff exclusion process in comments during Steel Market Update’s recent steel summit in Atlanta. To see the full video, click here.

As Shipp explained, his company filed an exclusion request last March for an extra wide light-gauge product required by one customer. The item is not available anywhere else in the United States, only Canada and Serbia, making it a clear case for a tariff exclusion.

Priefert’s initial application was rejected over a minor technicality, so the company reapplied and was pleased to get the Commerce Department’s approval in December 2018.

Since then, the company has had to refile a total of six times to address minor discrepancies in the paperwork (see Timeline of Frustration below). Meanwhile, the deadline to secure the funds from Customs and Border Protection has lapsed. “We did not know there is a liquidity time period past which point you can no longer get your money. So, now we have to go through another appeal process to fight the CBP and get the funds that were approved,” Shipp said.

The Commerce Department’s tariff exclusion process remains a challenge for manufacturers like Priefert. “As of today, we have more than $700,000 in what would have been tariffs that should be returned to us, and we still have not received it,” Shipp said. “It has been a very frustrating process for a product that was never made in the United States.”

Priefert’s Product Exclusion Timeline of Frustration


 Priefert original Section 232 filing.


 Priefert notified iron content information missing from filing. Was not a mandatory field and everyone in steel industry knows that after all alloys the iron content percentage is what’s left.


 Priefert resubmitted Section 232 filing for 2nd time.


 Priefert is notified Section 232 request approved; BIS-2018-0006-1317.


 Priefert notified by Customs and Border Protection that HTSUS code did not match import documents.


 Priefert requests from DOC HTSUS code change, as original submission contained a typo. Also requests date change back to 4/2/2018 original submission date.


 Priefert notified by DOC to resubmit exclusion request for HTS code change and start date change.


 Priefert submitted Section 232 filing for 3rd time.


 Priefert notified by DOC that chemistries are inconsistent with tariff provision claim; these are same chemistries submitted on 4/2/2018 and 4/19/2018 and approved by DOC on 12/04/2018.


 Priefert submitted Section 232 filing for 4th time.


 Priefert received approval once again, however only back dated to April 2019, not March 2018 when exclusion request originally filed.


 Priefert contacted DOC to change the date of the approval memo to March 2019.  DOC stated that in order to have the request date back to the original filing, the company must have a denied decision memo for the incorrect HTS code. Priefert followed guidance from DOC on 2/25/2019 to resubmit, now five months later is told it can’t resubmit because it has an approved memo and not a denied memo.


 Priefert notified by DOC to resubmit exclusion request for 5th time.


 Priefert resubmitted Section 232 filing for 5th time per request from DOC.  DOC promised to push it through quickly and back date approval to 4/2/2018.  Still awaiting resolution.


 Priefert learned WHEN/IF approval received, Customs and Borders Protection’s liquidation period has already expired and company potentially will not receive a refund of tariff money.


 Priefert notified by DOC that request filed on 8/14/2019 had chemistry issues and must be resubmitted.  These chems were already approved on 7/12/2019.


 Priefert notified again by DOC that request had issues that must be addressed related to chemistries.  


 Priefert resubmitted Section 232 request for 6th time per request from DOC.

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