Import restrictions: It’s about more than just steel

By: | Issue #657 | at 09:22 AM | Channel(s): Maritime  Breakbulk  

Import restrictions: It’s about more than just steel

US agricultural exports would also suffer.

Some people are nervous over what might be included in the U.S. Department of Commerce’s report on its Section 302 investigation of steel imports. “As the Trump Administration nears a determination on whether imported steel poses a threat to U.S. national security,” read a press announcement, the American Institute for International Steel held a get-together in Washington a couple of weeks ago to introduce a report detailing the “widespread and potentially devastating impacts of a Section 232 trade remedy.”

Their anxiety is understandable. The AIIS represents steel importers who choose to rely on inputs from abroad for a variety of reasons, whether it is lower prices or unique product attributes.

The Commerce Department usually doesn’t make broad pronouncements about large import sectors. They usually investigate complaints by U.S. producers about specific imported products, and there are dozens of different sorts of steel imports. Despite the protests by importers that it would be unfair to prejudice an entire import sector like steel, the Commerce Department has not ruled out the possibility that it might do just that. In early April, Commerce stated that its Section 232 investigation focus on whether steel imports writ large represent a threat to national security.

That leaves steel importers very nervous indeed. On the other hand, Commerce’s report is three month’s overdue, according to the timetable President Donald Trump gave the department, raising the question as to whether the investigation remains an administration priority.

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Peter Buxbaum's avatar

American Journal of Transportation

More on Peter Buxbaum

Peter Buxbaum has been writing about international trade and transportation, as well as security, defense, technology, and foreign policy, for over 20 years. Besides contributing to the AJOT, Buxbaum's work has appeared in such leading publications as Fortune, Forbes, Chief Executive, Computerworld, and Jane's Defence Weekly. He was educated at Columbia University.