Trump administration imposes new steel and aluminum tariffs

The European Union, Mexico, Canada, and several other countries are firing back with retaliatory trade measures following the Trump administration's move on June 1 to impose a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports.

President Trump announced worldwide steel and aluminum tariffs in March but granted exemptions to some major trading partners. Canada, Mexico and the EU were among the countries granted relief while the United States pursued negotiations to address the administration's concerns about the state of domestic steel and aluminum production. Those negotiations had a June 1 deadline.

Regarding aluminum articles, the U.S. identified the following HTS Codes as part of the aluminum tariffs: 7601—unwrought aluminum; 7604—aluminum bars, rods, and profiles; 7605—aluminum wire; 7606 and 7607—aluminum plate, sheet, strip, and foil (flat rolled products); 7608 and 7609—aluminum tubes and pipes and tube and pipe fitting; and 7616.99.51.60—aluminum castings. For AFS members that export aluminum castings, AFS is tracking closely the retaliatory actions by the EU, Canada and Mexico. Currently, everything that is listed under Heading 76.16 is under consideration by the Canadian government for retaliatory duties. However, not everything (or even anything) under that heading will necessary be chosen by Canada for retaliation.

There are eight U.S. trading partners – the EU, Canada, China, India, Japan, Mexico, Russia and Turkey – that have noticed retaliation against the United States potentially impacting approximately $39 billion in U.S. exports overseas. China’s retaliatory tariffs have been imposed since April and other tariffs are scheduled to take effect as early as June 20. The National Association of Manufacturers has prepared a summary of proposed retaliatory actions by U.S. trading partners, which includes links to the proposed retaliation lists by Mexico and Canada, as well as additional information on the dates of retaliation. The U.S has reached agreement with South Korea, Australia, Brazil and Argentina, which are voluntarily limiting their metals exports.

A number of U.S. companies are trying to win exemptions from the steel and aluminum tariffs, which the Commerce Department can approve. In May the agency had received nearly 9,000 requests for product exclusions from the tariffs. That number has almost certainly increased in the weeks since. Approximately, 2,200 requests were awaiting responses from the agency. The Commerce Department has yet to approve any product exemptions.

The United States is also exploring the possibility of putting new tariffs on cars. In May, the Trump administration announced an investigation into whether automobile imports are hurting U.S. national security, laying the groundwork for another trade fight.

AFS will announce shortly a date in June for a webinar on these trade actions and how they could impact the U.S. metalcasting industry.