After unleashing the first shots in the global trade war, and facing some retaliation from China tonight, President Trump has decided to exclude multiple nations (and The EU) from steel and aluminum tariffs through May 1st.
This action confirms what Ambassador Lighthizer suggested earlier in the evening, which perhaps explains the negligible response to this modest retreat in the trade war.
Full White House Statement:
President Trump Approves Section 232 Tariff Modifications
WASHINGTON – Today, based on ongoing dialogues, President Donald J. Trump authorized the modification of the Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum imports to suspend the tariffs for certain countries before they take effect. These suspensions are based on factors including ongoing discussions regarding measures to reduce global excess capacity in steel and aluminum production by addressing its root causes.
The tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the following countries are suspended until May 1, 2018, pending discussions of satisfactory long-term alternative means to address the threatened impairment to U.S. national security:
- the member countries of the European Union; and
- South Korea.
By May 1, 2018, the President will decide whether to continue to exempt these countries from the tariffs, based on the status of the discussions. The European Union will negotiate on behalf of its member countries.
The President retains broad authority to further modify the tariffs, including by removing the suspensions or suspending additional countries. Any country not currently suspended remains welcome to discuss a possible suspension with the United States based on a shared commitment to addressing global excess steel and aluminum capacity and production.
The Administration will closely monitor imports of steel and aluminum imports from exempted countries, and the United States Trade Representative, in consultation with the Secretary of Commerce and the Director of the National Economic Council, may advise the President to impose quotas as appropriate. Further action by the President would be needed to implement any quota the President might decide to adopt.
The tariffs proclaimed in Presidential Proclamations 9704 and 9705 will go into effect on 12:01 a.m. on Friday, March 23, 2018.
The process for directly affected parties to apply for an exclusion for specific steel or aluminum products that they need remains in place, as announced in the two Presidential Proclamations and subsequent Federal Register notices by the U.S. Department of Commerce. Secretary Ross, in consultation with other Administration officials, will evaluate exclusion requests for products, taking into account national security considerations. In that evaluation, the Secretary will consider whether a product is produced in the United States of a satisfactory quality or in a sufficient and reasonably available amount.
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While few would have expected any China exemption - that's the whole point - it was perhaps notable that Japan was not exempted.