Steel Importers seek to end enforcement of Section 232 steel tariffs - Global Trade Magazine
  July 24th, 2018 | Written by

Steel Importers seek to end enforcement of Section 232 steel tariffs

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  • Section 232 allows the president nearly unfettered discretion to impose tariffs and create other trade barriers.
  • Section 232 allows the president tremendous latitude to determine what constitutes a national security threat.
  • The Section 232 trade provision violates constitutional checks on the president’s power.
  • Since tariffs were imposed on steel imports, the US steel supply chain has experienced significant disruption.
  • Steel-using manufacturers have been hit with price increases of 50 percent on steel since tariffs were imposed.

The American Institute for International Steel (AIIS) and two of its member companies, SIM-TEX, LP and KURT ORBAN PARTNERS, LLC, filed a motion for summary judgment last week in the United States Court of International Trade in an effort to halt enforcement of the law under which tariffs are currently being collected on steel imported to the US.

The motion follows on a lawsuit filed by the parties in late June in the same court challenging the constitutionality of the statute under which President Trump imposed a 25-percent tariff on imported steel.

“Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act allows the president nearly unfettered discretion to impose tariffs and create other trade barriers if he simply decides that imports threaten to impair US national security,” said AIIS President Richard Chriss. “At the same time, the law allows tremendous latitude to the president in determining what constitutes a threat. The United States Constitution provides important checks on the President’s power, and the Section 232 trade provision stands in clear violation of that balance.”

Since tariffs were imposed on steel imports earlier this year, the US steel supply chain has experienced significant disruption, with ports experiencing a sharp drop in throughput and steel-using manufacturers hit with price increases of 50 percent or more on steel product, coupled with newfound difficulty in obtaining specific types of steel, whether imported or sourced domestically.  To date, US Customs and Border Protection has collected in excess of $582 million in tariffs—amounting to a tax imposed on the US economy.

“In Section 232, the US Congress has transferred to the president the ability to make the essential policy choices that the Constitution assigns to Congress alone,” said Prof. Alan Morrison of George Washington University Law School, lead counsel for the plaintiffs. “Congress is required to retain those policy choices under our Constitution, a notion supported by the principles of separation of powers that animate it. At the end of the day, Congress alone should exert this authority, in keeping with how our system was designed.”


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