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President Trump Issues Proclamations Imposing Increased Tariffs on Imported Aluminum and Steel

March 9, 2018

On March 8, 2018, President Trump issued two executive proclamations to impose much-talked-about import tariffs on aluminum and steel, respectively. These proclamations, which are set to become effective March 23, 2018, impose tariffs on certain imported steel and aluminum of 10% for aluminum articles, and 25% for steel articles. The new tariffs are ad valorem taxes imposed on the value of the imported aluminum and steel.

The revised tariffs apply to specified items of imported steel and aluminum that enter the United States or are withdrawn from a warehouse for consumption on or after March 23, 2018. According to the proclamations, due to certain shared commitments and physical proximity among the United States, Canada, and Mexico, the new tariffs do not apply to steel and aluminum imported from Canada or Mexico. 

President Trump indicated that he believes the tariffs are necessary in light of the Secretary of Commerce’s report dated January 11, 2018, which highlighted national security and national defense concerns associated with imported aluminum and steel. President Trump’s executive actions were taken without action by Congress and were instead based on authority provided to the Executive under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 and the Trade Act of 1974.

Importantly, the proclamations leave open the possibility for relief from the new tariffs in certain instances, where appropriately authorized by the Secretary of Commerce. Therefore, importers are well advised to review the potential for exemption from these new tariffs. The Secretary of Commerce is required to issue procedures by March 18, 2018, to guide taxpayers with respect to requests for relief from the new tariffs.

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