Trump’s Tariff War: What’s going on?

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Lately, it’s been hard to keep up with the various actions and proposed actions concerning increased tariffs on steel and aluminum products imported into the United States, as well as the proposed retaliatory tariffs on additional goods traded between the United States and China and the European Union (EU). Below is a general outline of what’s been happening. Stay tuned! If you would like assistance in reviewing whether your exported products may be subject to these proposed and additional tariffs, or if you want to review whether your imported products into the U.S. may be affected, contact Export Solutions to schedule a no-charge consultation today.

U.S. increases tariffs on steel and aluminum imports

Effective March 23, 2018, two Presidential Proclamations (here and here) imposed additional 25% ad valorem duties on certain steel articles and an additional 10% ad valorem rate of duty on aluminum articles for goods entered into the United States. Right now, these additional duties affect designated steel and aluminum products from all countries except Canada, Mexico, Australia, Argentina, South Korea, Brazil and the European Union (EU). It is expected that a final decision will be made by May 1, 2018 concerning the countries that have been exempted as a temporary measure. The announcements do provide that other countries with whom the United States has a “security relationship” may petition the Secretary of Commerce to either remove or modify these restrictions.

Other countries respond with their own proposed tariffs

In response to these proclamations, the EU has proposed additional duties on U.S. products – should the EU become subject to the steel and aluminum tariffs. These products include agriculture goods, iron and steel articles, footwear and more. You can read the full list of proposed EU tariffs here.

In addition, both China and the U.S. have been announcing proposed and additional tariff increases on other products. These actions appear to be stemming from the U.S. imposition on the steel and aluminum increases, as well as the U.S. investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

On April 3 and 5, 2018, the United States Trade Representative (USTR) announced that they were considering additional measures under Section 301 regarding China’s unfair trade practices relating to technology transfer, intellectual property, and innovation. “Section 301 is a key enforcement tool that allows the U.S. to address a wide variety of unfair acts, policies and practices of U.S. trading partners,” the USTR is quoted as saying. These announcements were made in response to China’s threats of new tariffs. The USTR indicated that they “found overwhelming evidence that China’s unreasonable actions are harming the U.S. economy. In light of such evidence the appropriate response from China should be to change its behavior, as China’s government has pledged to do many times.”

These actions followed the initial report for the U.S. to take “appropriate response to China’s harmful acts, policies and practices” and should include: tariffs, World Trade Organization (WTO) disputes and investment restrictions. The USTR is accepting written comments through May 11, 2018, concerning tariffs associated with imports into the U.S. of Chinese origin items.

Some examples of additional tariff increases on U.S. goods into China include soybeans, agricultural products and automobiles. You can read the full list of Chinese retaliatory tariffs here.

Examples of proposed additional tariff increases on Chinese products imported into the U.S. include:

  • Pharmaceuticals
  • Industrial machinery including printing and textile machinery
  • Iron, steel, and aluminum
  • Valves
  • Bearings
  • Motors
  • Various electronic products
  • Certain medical devices

You can read the full list of proposed additional tariffs by the U.S. on Chinese imports here.

At the moment, the only thing to be sure of is to stay tuned and stay informed! Export Solutions is here to assist you in assessing if your exported or imported products may be subject to additional tariff increases – whether they be implemented or proposed.

Rebecca Yeager is a Trade Compliance Consultant for Export Solutions -- a full-service consulting firm that specializes in helping companies comply with U.S. and international import/export regulations.