Advocacy Update: White House Extends Steel Tariff Exemptions for Canada, European Union, and Mexico
       By Ben Gann, NLBMDA Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs

President Donald Trump has announced the United States (U.S.) is providing a 30-day extension exempting steel imports from Canada, European Union (EU) member countries, and Mexico from tariffs. The temporary exemption expires on June 1 and U.S. trade officials have said that there will not be any further short-term exemptions. The decision comes as the temporary exemptions were set to expire today.

The White House also announced that steel imports from Argentina, Australia, and Brazil have been granted permanent exemptions from the tariffs, and that details of those agreements would soon be finalized and disclosed.

The U.S. Department of Commerce imposed a 25 percent tariff on steel imported to the United States effective March 23. Steel imports from Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the EU, Mexico, and South Korea were temporarily exempt from the tariffs. Approximately one-third of steel imports were still subject to the tariffs.

South Korea was awarded a permanent exemption in March following the initial tariff announcement. The South Korean exemption is part of a revised bilateral trade agreement that places a quota on the country’s steel imports. As part of the quota, South Korea can export up to 2.68 million tons of steel annually to the U.S., which is a 30 percent reduction of the annual average between 2015 and 2017.

Tariffs on steel imports present the latest challenge for the building and construction sector. Duties between 10 percent and 24 percent are currently in effect for Canadian softwood lumber and a lack of skilled workers has made it harder to finish some construction projects. NLBMDA opposes tariffs on steel imports as it increases construction costs, decreases housing affordability, and can cause an unnecessary trade war that harms consumers.

Questions? NLBMDA members with questions should contact Ben Gann, NLBMDA Vice President of Legislative and Political Affairs, at ben@dealer.org or 202.367.2346.