Beer Institute condemns Department of Commerce's aluminum tariff recommendations


The goal of a Section 232 investigation is to determine the effect of imports on the national security of the United States, and the president stated that his administration is reviewing the final Department of Commerce reports submitted last month and considering all options.

Both companies reversed gains after Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross proposed a 24 percent global tariff on steel shipments coming into the USA and a 7.7 percent duty on aluminum imports.

For aluminum, the report recommended a 7.7 percent tariff on exports from all countries and a 23.6 percent tariff on products from China, Hong Kong, Russia, Venezuela and Vietnam.

A third option called for Trump to impose global quotas based on 63 percent of each country's 2017 steel exports and based on 87 percent of their aluminum exports to the United States.

The US president "is required to make a decision on the steel recommendations by April 11, 2018, and on the aluminum recommendations by April 19, 2018", the department said.

"What we're talking about is tariffs and or quotas", Trump told the group.

Stocks of steel and aluminum companies immediately soared.

The options suggested include limiting all countries to steel exports equal to 63 per cent of their 2017 exports into the USA, or a more severe quota for a smaller list of countries if Trump goes the more targeted route. The country's imports are almost four times the amount of exports, according to the report.

Already, there are reports that the European Union - one of the biggest exporters of steel to the USA - could retaliate with a tariff on U.S. agricultural goods. "It'll make a decision, and I will make a decision that reflects the best interests of the USA, including the need to address overproduction in China and other countries". Although Trump campaigned on a protectionist platform, he has taken only modest action so far to restrict imports.

Trump was presented with reports last month following parallel "Section 232" investigations into whether import restrictions on steel and aluminum are needed to protect national security.

Ross criticized China, the world's largest producer of steel, for overproduction.

Speculation about possible USA action has roiled the metals industry.

At today's reduced military spending, military consumption of aluminum is a small percentage of total consumption and therefore is insufficient by itself to preserve the viability of the smelters.

The department notes that employment in the aluminum industry fell by 58 percent between 2013 and 2016, while employment in the steel industry dropped 35 percent in the last 20 years. All others would be subject to quotas equal to their 2017 exports to the United States.

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