Aluminum Could be Next Product Subject to Broad Import Restrictions

By: Standler, Travis, and Rosenberg | International Trade, Custums, & Export Law

The Department of Commerce has self-initiated an investigation under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to determine whether increasing imports of foreign-made aluminum threaten U.S. economic security and military preparedness. This investigation could result in the imposition of tariffs, quotas, or other restrictions on a wide range of imported aluminum products in as little as a few months.

Section 232 investigations include consideration of factors such as the amount of domestic production needed for projected national defense requirements and whether imports impair the domestic industry’s ability to meet those needs, the effect of foreign competition on the domestic industry, and any detrimental impacts from the displacement of domestic products by excessive imports. The DOC said its aluminum investigation will specifically examine global overcapacity, dumping, and illegal subsidies.

Under the law the DOC has up to 270 days to conclude a section 232 investigation and submit its report and recommendations to the president. However, in an April 27 memorandum President Trump directed the DOC to “proceed expeditiously” in conducting this investigation.

If the DOC concludes that aluminum is being imported in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair U.S. national security, and the president concurs (a decision he has up to 90 days to make), the president has broad authority to adjust imports of aluminum and its derivatives, including through the use of tariffs and quotas. Any import adjustments, or any other non-trade-related actions the president may elect to take, would be imposed within 15 days of the president’s determination to act.

For more information on this section 232 investigation and how it may affect your business, please contact Kristen Smith at (202) 730-4965, Mark Ludwikowski at (202) 730-4967, or David Craven at (312) 279-2844.