March was a busy month for the mercurial U.S. President’s trade agenda. Two actions put global traders into a frenzy. First, on March 23rd, U.S. Customs began collecting the so-called “Section 232” duties on imports of steel and aluminum products (generally, raw materials; a complete list of the affected tariff codes under the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the U.S. can be found on pages 21-22 of the Commerce Department’s report recommending the tariffs). Steel products are subject to 25% duties, and aluminum products attract 10% duties — in addition to all other regular and antidumping/countervailing duties that apply. (Certain countries have a temporary exemption from these duties until May 1, 2018: Mexico, Canada, Australia, the E.U. nations, Argentina, Brazil, and South Korea. The Presidential Proclamation announcing the duties also called for procedures to be drafted and implemented so that company- and product-specific exclusion petitions could be considered by the Commerce Department; the interim final rule came out on March 19th. We can assist any companies seeking relief from these onerous tariffs by filing petitions with Commerce ASAP!
Second, the Administration announced on March 22 its intent to levy so-called “Section 301” safeguard tariffs of 25% on products originating in the People’s Republic of China in response to the PRC’s perceived theft of U.S. intellectual property via the communist nation’s policies and practices:
The list of covered items (by tariff code) will be published no later than April 6th, and will include machinery, information technology products, and aerospace items – and may also be broadened to include apparel and footwear. A period of notice-and-comment will follow for 30 days after publication, so if believe your Chinese-originating products should be exempt from these new tariffs, we can assist in preparing those comments.