March 20, 2018
The Department of Commerce Department has outlined a process that would allow individual American businesses to apply for an exclusion from the tariffs on imported steel and aluminum recently enacted by the Trump administration.
Businesses may submit requests to the Office of the Secretary of Commerce for an exclusion if the affected parties can argue that the the U.S. can’t produce enough needed steel or aluminum materials or those are not able to be produced to the quality needed. There can also be exclusions based on specific national security considerations.
All exclusion requests or objections to submitted exclusion requests will be made publicly available, unless the requests are subject to government-imposed access restriction or other national security controls, such as classified information.
The Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association, a trade group that includes the Heavy Duty Manufacturers Association, took issue with the fact that only individual companies and organizations may apply for the exclusions and is urging the Trump administration to allow trade associations to apply on behalf of members.
MEMA has publicly opposed President Trump’s tariff plan, saying in a statement, “The burden of these tariffs, as always, will be passed on to the American consumer.”
On March 8, Trump signed an executive order that placed a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum that is scheduled to go into effect on March 23. Imports from Canada and Mexico will initially be exempted from the tariffs and the order left the door open for exemptions for other countries in the future.
The tariffs were strongly opposed by many groups in the U.S. over fears of increased prices and the possibility of a trade war with other countries that could affect the prices and availability of other imports and exports. White House Chief Economist Gary Cohn reportedly clashed with the president over the matter, ultimately deciding to resign because of it.
On March 18, a letter signed by 45 trade associations, including the Auto Care Association. representing a range of major companies urged the president not to impose tariffs on U.S. imports from China. The Washington Post reported that the U.S. was preparing to impose $60 billion in annual tariffs against Chinese products to combat the trade deficit between the two countries. China is the largest U.S. trading partner, importing more than $460 billion annually.
In the letter, the trade groups argue that the steep tariffs would “trigger a chain reaction fo negative consequences for the U.S. economy, provoking retaliation; stifling U.S. agriculture, goods, and services exports;and raising costs for businesses and consumers.”
While the trade groups agree with the president that China has propagated unfair trade practices and policies, it believes that the tariffs will only harm American businesses, workers, and investors.