Steel News

Lifting Steel Tariffs Necessitates Continued Vigilance, SMA Says

5/20/2019 - The Steel Manufacturers Association hopes that the removal of the Section 232 tariffs on Canadian and Mexican steel will clear the way for a new North American free trade agreement, but said that close monitoring of steel imports is still needed.

“The administration’s comprehensive 232 actions are working. It is important that this resolution maintains strong enforcement measures, as to not undermine the advances made by domestic steel producers during this short period of relief,” SMA president Philip K. Bell said in a statement. 

“Tax reform, regulatory certainty and 232 tariffs have provided domestic steelmakers with a level of confidence allowing for capacity investments and job creation. It is critical that we lock in these benefits to the domestic industry by maintaining a rigorous 232 program for steel," he added. 

The Trump administration on Friday announced that it had reached an agreement with Canada and Mexico to lift the tariffs and instead create a plan to monitor imports and prevent surges. Canada and Mexico also agreed to lift retaliatory tariffs on U.S. goods. 

In monitoring trade between the countries, the three agreed to distinguish between steel melted and poured in North America and steel imported from elsewhere. Also, in monitoring for surges, the U.S. agreed to consider that new capital investment here might require an additional 225,000 metric tons of billet to be imported from Mexico. Reciprocally, Mexico will consider that new investment there might require an additional 200,000 metric tons of cold-rolled steel from the U.S.

The Steel Manufacturers said the monitoring and anti-surge mechanisms called for in the agreement are meant to prevent transshipments of imported steel and stop unfairly traded steel imports throughout North America. 

“SMA continues to support the administration’s efforts to improve free and fair trade in North America by modernizing trade rules for steel producers and other manufacturers in the region.  We are hopeful that a primary benefit of the 232-tariff resolution will help clear a path in Congress for immediate passage of the new U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement,” Bell said.