BREAKING NEWS: Department of Commerce Submits Aluminum Section 232 Report to the President
It’s happened again. Once again the United States Department of Commerce submitted the results of a Section 232 investigation to the president, without announcing what it says.
A similar incident occurred eleven days ago, after Commerce submitted a Section 232 report on steel imports to President Donald Trump.
Trump signed an executive order on April 27, 2017, directing Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross to expedite an existing investigation of aluminum imports. The Commerce Department did not follow the president’s expedited timetable.
The same situation prevailed with regard to the steel investigation. On January 11, 2018, Commerce submitted its steel Section 232 report to the president without revealing its contents. That investigation, too, had been the subject of an executive order expediting its timetable, a schedule which Commerce seemingly ingnored.
Both investigations were begun under Section 232 of the Trade Extension Act of 1962, which means that a recommendation to restrict imports must be preceded by a finding that the imports in question pose a threat to national security.
According to the White House, aluminum imports into the United States increased by 18 percent while US production fell by 47 percent in 2016. Of the eight aluminum smelters based in the US at the beginning of 2016, seven have either shutdown, reduced production, or are idled.
The president has 90 days to decide on any potential action based on the findings of the investigation. The Commerce Department promised that after the president’s decision is announced, it will publish a summary of the report in the Federal Register and make the report available to the public after removing any business confidential or classified material.
But until that time, the Commerce Department’s findings and recommendations, and the president’s thoughts on the matter, if any, will be shrouded in mystery.