The US set preliminary tariffs of more than 100% on tin-plated steel products from China, along with smaller duties on imports from Canada and Germany, in a move likely draw support from US steelmakers amid concerns about inflation of everyday products like canned foods.
The anti-dumping tariffs on the product, which is used in cans for food and other consumer goods, were announced by the Commerce Department on Thursday after an investigation spurred by a request from Cleveland-Cliffs, an Ohio-based steelmaker, and United Steelworkers.
The department’s probe, which focused on eight countries’ pricing behaviors in their home markets and the US, found relatively small differences between prices that Canadian and German companies charged at home versus the US.
Commerce concluded Chinese exports were sold in the US at less than half their domestic price, though it said Chinese firms didn’t cooperate with the investigation or couldn’t prove their independence from the ruling Communist Party.
China’s embassy in Washington didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.
The tariffs had raised alarm bells from groups like the Consumer Brands Association, which warned earlier that the duties could raise prices by up to 30% on items including canned soups, baby formula and deodorant. The association, along with the Can Manufacturers Institute, called for eliminating the duties on supplies from Canada and Germany but made no reference to China.
Whether the tariffs become permanent depends on whether the US International Trade Commission — a separate, quasi-judicial entity — finds that the countries’ pricing behavior injured US firms. If not, the duties will be refunded.
Final decisions, after investigations by both ITC and Commerce, will be announced in late December for China and in early 2024 for all other countries.
The preliminary rates have been set at 122.52% for Chinese imports, 5.29% for Canada, and 7.02% for Germany. Commerce didn’t find any dumping behavior from Korea, The Netherlands, Taiwan, Turkey or the United Kingdom.
Tin-plated steel from China accounts for around 14% of total US import volume, while Canada and German are both around 20%, according to the Commerce Department.
The two other US producers of tin mill producers, United States Steel Corp. and Esmark Inc, didn’t join Cleveland-Cliffs in seeking the tariffs.
--With assistance from Joe Deaux, Laura Dhillon Kane, and Kamil Kowalcze.