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New White House Trade Proclamations: Tariffs for Some, Exemptions for Others

President Trump announced on May 31, 2018, that the United States will implement steel and aluminum tariffs on Canada, Mexico and the European Union (EU) effective June 1, 2018, thereby ending temporary exemptions previously granted to those countries. The president also issued two proclamations making permanent the temporary exemptions granted to Argentina, Australia and Brazil from 25 percent tariffs on steel imports, and also making permanent the temporary exemptions granted to Argentina and Australia from 10 percent tariffs on aluminum imports.

Today’s steel proclamation states that the tariffs for Argentina and Brazil will be replaced by product-specific quotas on steel imports, and today’s aluminum proclamation states that tariffs for Argentina will be replaced by quotas on aluminum imports. The alternative arrangements for Australia were not announced in either of today’s proclamations. Please note that Korea had previously been granted a permanent exemption from the steel tariffs in exchange for a quota system.

The proclamations do not provide any permanent exemptions, or extend the temporary exemptions, for Canada, Mexico or the EU. A White House press release stated that the United States was “unable to reach satisfactory arrangements” with Canada, Mexico and the EU regarding the steel and aluminum tariffs and will, therefore, implement the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from those countries. According to Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, renegotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico were “taking longer than we had hoped,” and similar delays in talks with the European Union meant that there was insufficient progress to warrant permanent exemptions or an extension of existing temporary exemptions for those countries.

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About this Author

Douglass Heffner, International trade lawyer, Drinker Biddle

Douglas J. Heffner litigates customs and international trade matters including antidumping duty, countervailing duty and safeguard cases. He represents foreign companies in Canada, Europe, Japan and Mexico, as well as domestic producers in industries that range from high-tech to heavy industry, to consumer and industrial goods. He also represents trade associations, government agencies and embassies in a broad range of matters.

Richard P Ferrin, International Trade Lawyer, Drinker Biddle

Richard P. Ferrin advises clients about international trade regulations, particularly antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings at both the administrative and appellate levels. He advocates for his client in global “safeguards” proceedings and on customs matters involving classification issues and country-of-origin determinations. Richard has represented foreign manufacturers, foreign exporters, and U.S. importers in antidumping and countervailing duty proceedings before the U.S. International Trade Commission, and in judicial review of administrative actions at the U.S. Court of International Trade, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and North American Free Trade Agreement binational panels. In addition, Richard advises importers on how to minimize antidumping duty liability.