Section 232: What to Know

Section 232 is part of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. It gives the president the ability to penalize imports if he decides they pose a threat to national security.

232 Recommendations are Nearing Delivery to the President

The Trump administration said it plans to take “major action” once it receives the U.S. Commerce Department’s report in its Section 232 investigation.

The president has 90 days to review Commerce’s recommendations. However, it is anticipated that he will announce his plan of action within weeks of receiving Commerce’s report. This could include imposing tariffs on top of the current anti-dumping and countervailing duties already in place or imposing quotas that will limit import volumes or a combination of both.

Commerce Delayed Anticipated Determinations

The U.S. Commerce Department modestly delayed its anticipated determinations and recommendations to consider the concerns that have been voiced by manufacturers. Most do not support a potential blanket ban on imports.”

Some manufacturers and trade associations expressed apprehension regarding the investigation’s potential to cut off vital suppliers, greatly effect domestic steel prices, and impact American jobs.

Many even requested that their product, nation, or supplier be excluded from the Section 232 investigation.

Section 232 and National Security Concerns

While Section 232 is framed with concerns of national security, it casts a wider net well outside solely what we would think of as national security matters (e.g., military-related materials or intelligence-sensitive materials). Interpretation includes jobs, job security, ability of metals producers to remain profitable and viable, etc.

Domestic steelmakers have urged Commerce to define “national security” broadly. They would like to it to include not only military goods, but also products used in roads, bridges, and other infrastructure. Mills also said their commercial viability is a matter of national security. If they aren’t profiting, they can’t afford to invest in the research that is necessary to develop future military-grade steel.

Commerce is expected to issue the report by the end of the month.

For more information about the Section 232 investigation, contact your local sales representative.