Trade Case Toolbox: Trade Actions Available to Steelmakers

With news of trade cases filling steel industry media outlets it is important to understand exactly what a trade case is and the different trade actions the U.S. steel industry has available to it regarding international commerce.

In a previous post we discussed a brief background on steel trade cases as well as recent activity. In this post we will expound upon that by going into more detail about the different types of trade actions and provide another update on recent activity.

201, 232, 301, 332, 337. So, what do all these numbers mean?

Section 201

Trade Act of 1974

Section 201 allows domestic industries who have been seriously injured or threatened with serious injury by increased imports to petition the International Trade Commission (ITC) for import relief. If the ITC makes an affirmative decision it recommends a solution to prevent or resolve the injury and facilitate industry adjustment to import competition. The President makes the final decision whether to provide relief and the amount of said relief.

A 201 is probably the most commonly known trade action for steelmakers besides anti-dumping and countervailing duty cases.

Section 232

Trade Expansion Act of 1962

Section 232 investigations are used to determine the impact of imports on national security. Congress grants the President unprecedented authority to negotiate tariff reductions up to 50%. The Department of Commerce conducts an investigation on the imports and then makes recommendations to the President. The President then decides if he (or she) agrees and adjusts the imports.

Section 301

Trade Act of 1974

Section 301 is used to enforce trade agreements, resolve trade disputes, and open foreign markets to U.S. goods and services. It was designed to eliminate unfair foreign trade practices that have an adverse effect on U.S. trade. The President determines whether the alleged practices are unjustifiable, unreasonable, or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce. If he (or she) decides action is necessary, the law directs that all appropriate action within the President’s power be taken.

Section 332

Tariff Act of 1930

The ITC investigates international trade, tariffs, and competition between the U.S. and foreign industries under section 332. The investigations and reports do not contain recommendations unless they have been specifically requested and do not provide a legal basis for other trade actions by the President.

Section 337

Tariff Act of 1930

The ITC, under section 337, determines whether there is unfair competition in the importation of products into the U.S. It declares infringement of a U.S. patent, copyright, registered trademark, or mask work to be an unlawful practice in import trade. It also declares that unlawful other unfair methods of competition and unfair acts in the importation of products in the U.S., the treat of which is to destroy or substantially injure a domestic industry, prevent establishment of such industry, or monopolize trade and commerce in the U.S.

Now that we have discussed the complicated part, here is a summary of the trade cases that have been filed. Final DOC and ITC anti-dumping and countervailing duty rulings:

  • ITC ruled in the affirmative the final determinations of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on corrosion resistant material for China, India, Italy, Korea, and Taiwan.
  • ITC also ruled in the affirmative the final determinations of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on cold rolled steel for Brazil, China, India, Korea, Japan, and the United Kingdom, but ruled to the negative for Russia.
  • ITC also ruled in the affirmative the final determinations of anti-dumping and countervailing duties on hot rolled steel for Australia, Brazil, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Turkey, and the United Kingdom.
  • Preliminary determinations by both the ITC and DOC for stainless steel against China have been made with final determinations expected by January 2017.
  • U.S. Steel Corp., sought to have a Section 337 investigation by the ITC completed by Nov. 2, 2017, targeting Chinese mills back in August. It also proposed a single, 10-day evidentiary hearing on all claims in the case and no phased discovery process.
  • U.S. Steel Corp., gets 21-month time line for its Section 337 investigation targeting Chinese steelmakers.
  • The ITC found 14 Chinese companies are in default in the pending Section 337 investigation initiated by U.S. Steel Corp.

Contact your local sales representative or reference the ITC website trade.gov for more information.