Trade Cases

Industry Associations Call for Sunset Provision in Section 232 Reform

Written by Sandy Williams

The Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (CAMMU) and other trade associations are calling for sunset provisions to be included in any comprehensive Section 232 tariff reform legislation considered by Congress.

A letter sent today to Senate Finance Committee Chairman Charles Grassley and Ranking Member Ron Wyden emphasizes the damage Section 232 tariffs are causing American manufacturers and the U.S. economy.

“While compromise is vital to come to agreement on comprehensive reform legislation, it is the current 232 steel and aluminum tariffs that are causing actual economic harm today to steel and aluminum users and producers,” said CAMMU in the letter. “Reforming the 232 statute without allowing for an end to the current steel and aluminum tariffs would ensure that this harm continues with no end in sight. Reform legislation that mandates congressional oversight over future 232 cases while ignoring ongoing actions undermines the basic premise of any legislative action to restore the constitutional authority of Congress.”

The associations cite data that show Section 232 tariffs have create or saved only 1,800 jobs in the domestic steel sector since they were initiated in 2018. A study by the Peterson Institute for International Economics found that consumers and businesses are paying an estimated $900,000 for every job “saved” or created by the tariffs—a figure that has likely increased since the study was published, said CAMMU.

In addition, recent slowing demand, caused in part by the tariffs, has resulted in idled steel plants and worker layoffs. Steel production capacity reached Commerce’s target of 80 percent in September 2018,  “yet tariffs are still in place, have not been adjusted, and no date has been announced,” said CAMMU.

“We appreciate the desire for bipartisan, compromise legislation that has a chance of seeing Senate floor action this Congress,” write the associations. “However, 232 reform legislation that does not allow for a robust congressional debate and decision on the current steel and aluminum tariffs would allow these tariffs that are causing actual harm to U.S. manufacturers to continue with no competent exclusion process in place and no future relief in sight.

“We urge you to include a sunsetting provision that addresses current 232 tariffs in the mark that goes before the Senate Finance Committee to allow for a debate on these harmful tariffs and to ensure all stakeholders have a voice in the process.”

Signatories to the letter include:

• Coalition of American Metal Manufacturers and Users (American Institute for International Steel, Associated Builders and Contractors, Industrial Fasteners Institute, the Hands‐On Science Partnership, the National Tooling & Machining Association, North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers, the Precision Machined Products Association, and the Precision Metalforming Association)

• American Association of Exporters and Importers

• Auto Care AssociationFlexible Packaging Association

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