On March 1, 2018, President Donald Trump said that his administration would begin imposing a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff on imported aluminum as early as the next week. The President’s unexpected announcement came after the Department of Commerce concluded on February 16, 2018 that the importation of steel and aluminum threatens national security. The Commerce Department reached its conclusion after finalizing investigations under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which were initiated in April 2017 and designed to determine whether such imports “threaten to impair the national security.”
In addition, the Commerce Department determined that import competition is harming the American production of steel and aluminum, and the imposition of a tariff would bolster the economic outlook of domestic steel and aluminum corporations. During a meeting with steel and aluminum executives, President Trump noted that the policy imposing the proposed tariffs is currently being written. As a result, it is still unclear whether the proposed tariffs will eventually be phased out over time, or if certain countries will be exempt from either tariff.
Copies of the Commerce Department’s Section 232 reports on steel and aluminum imports can be found here and here.