The following is the March 12, 2018 Congressional Research Service Legal Sidebar: Threats to National Security Foiled? A Wrap Up of New Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum.
From the Report:
In accordance with two presidential proclamations issued on March 8, 2018, new tariffs will be imposed on imports of certain steel and aluminum products beginning on March 23, 2018. As previously discussed in this post, the tariffs come after the U.S. Department of Commerce’s (“Commerce”) release of two reports that detail the results of its investigations, conducted pursuant to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, on the effects on national security of (1) steel imports (the “Steel Investigation”) and (2) aluminum imports (the “Aluminum Investigation”). In its reports, Commerce concluded that steel and aluminum are “being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security,” thus triggering the President’s authority under the statute to determine what “action . . . must be taken to adjust the imports of the article and its derivatives” to address this threat. These tariffs also come about a month after the President, relying on a different statute, proclaimed a tariff-rate quota on imports of certain solar energy related products and large residential washers. Taken together, these new tariffs—all of which were imposed under the authority of two uncommonly used laws—may be indicative of the Trump Administration’s approach to addressing perceived unfair trade practices, one that relies on less familiar laws allowing for the imposition of trade measures in addition to the more commonly used antidumping and countervailing duty statutes.