December 7, 2023

Washington Wire: Commerce Department Changes Section 232 Steel, Aluminum Exclusion Process


Commerce Department Changes Section 232 Steel, Aluminum Exclusion Process  

On December 14, the Commerce Department released a rule making three significant changes to the steel and aluminum exclusion process and indicated it would continue to make three significant changes to this Section 232 process.
The most significant change creates a more efficient method for approving exclusions where Commerce has not received objections for exclusions filed from paying the 25% tariffs on imported steel or 10% on aluminum articles. The interim final rule addresses this issue with the adoption of General Approved Exclusions (GAEs), which Commerce believes will reduce the number of exclusions requests they receive by 5,000. This rule adds 108 GAEs for steel articles under supplement no. 2 part 705 and 15 GAEs for aluminum articles under supplement no. 3 to part 705, the complete list appears at the end of the Interim Final Rule: Business importing items on this list should contact their broker or supplier immediately on how to receive relief from the steel and aluminum tariffs.
The new rule also reverses a September 2019 decision on how Commerce would determine whether the steel or aluminum is immediately available in the U.S. from a domestic producer. Commerce had deemed 8-weeks as a reasonable amount of time for the product to be readily available. Officials took this step in 2019 in response to complaints from One Voice and other groups. The new rule revises the criteria to clarify that an objector must be able to provide the steel or aluminum “by a date earlier than the time required for the requester to obtain the entire quantity of the product from the requester’s foreign supplier,” instead of being strictly limited to producing it within eight weeks.
Lastly, the revised 232 exclusion process requires a certification be made in the 232 Exclusions Portal when completing the submission of a 232 exclusion request, where they must attest that the requester intends to use the products themselves or have a purchase order and do not intend to use the requested exclusion to hedge the price.



USTR Takes Action on Tariffs in Boeing-Airbus Investigation; New Tariffs in French Digital Tax Case Implemented
The United States Trade Representative (USTR) will place tariffs on additional products from the European Union (EU) in the latest action involving the enforcement of U.S. WTO rights in the Large Civil Aircraft dispute, commonly known as the Boeing-Airbus dispute. The action did not include tariffs on copper-based alloys, which One Voice has lobbied against and testified before the U.S. International Trade Commission about the negative impact of the potential tariffs on the materials. The new goods targeted by the trade action include some aircraft parts, certain wines, and brandy all from France and Germany. The US originally placed tariffs on $7.5 billion of imports from the EU in October 2019. The EU responded with tariffs on $4 billion in US products in November 2020.
USTR argues that the time period the EU used to calculate the tariffs placed on US goods was changed from the time period that the US used in initially calculate its own earlier tariffs allowing for the imposition of duties on more US products due to the “drastically reduced” trade volumes during the time period due to the COVID-19 pandemic. By adjusting the period to mirror that of the EU, the US was able to target additional EU products while the overall value of goods remains at $7.5 billion.
An additional 25% tariff has also gone into effect on various French goods worth $1.3 billion in response to the USTR’s 301 investigation into France’s Digital Services Tax (DST). They apply to several cosmetic products, assorted soaps, and handbags. USTR has also opened investigations in June 2020 into DSTs in nine other countries and the EU.



EPA Releases Secret Science Rule
On January 5, the EPA released its long-awaited “Secret Science Rule” supported by One Voice to require additional disclosure of the raw data used by regulators when they create both significant new rules and release “influential scientific information.” Formally known as the “Strengthening Transparency in Pivotal Science Underlying Significant Regulatory Actions and Influential Scientific Information” rule, the first draft of which generated over 600,000 public comments, including those filed by One Voice coalition partners. EPA plans to apply the rule eliminating the use of "secret science" to several environmental statutes.
The Strengthening Transparency in Regulatory Science rule requires the EPA to give preference to studies that only use publicly available data that can be retested and limits when regulators can rely on confidential studies, ending the practice of using “secret science.” Previously, EPA regulators would convene panelists to review proposed rules without disclosing the scientists advising on the action nor the “science” provided to support the rulemaking itself.



OSHA Forms 300A for Calendar Year 2020 Due March 2
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has begun accepting 2020 Form 300A (Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses). All establishments with 250 or more employees are required to electronically submit injury and illness data, while manufacturers are one of the numerous specific industries in which all establishments with 20 or more employees must submit injury and illness summary (Form 300A) data to OSHA. Businesses have until March 2 to electronically submit their Form 300As for Calendar Year 2020. Click here to access OSHA’s injury reporting portal.