WASHINGTON — The U.S. Department of Commerce has issued an interim final rule outlining requirements for U.S. manufacturers to apply for exemptions from the Trump administration's tariffs on imported steel and aluminum.
Only individuals or organizations using steel or aluminum for manufacturing, construction or other business purposes may submit exclusion requests from the tariffs, according to the notice published in the March 19 Federal Register.
The interim rule also describes requirements for submitting objections to specific exclusion requests, according to Commerce.
"Consistent with the president's instructions, the criteria in the forms and supplements are primarily focused on the availability of the product in the United States," the document said. The agency will consider information about product supply in other countries to determine whether national security considerations warrant a tariff exemption, it said.
Because the issue involves significant U.S. military and foreign affairs functions, the usual comment period on a proposed rule was waived, according to the document.
"If this interim final rule was delayed to allow for public comment or for 30 days before companies in the U.S. were allowed to request exclusions,…those entities could face significant economic hardship that could potentially create a detrimental effect on the general U.S. economy," it said.
Mr. Trump signed an order March 8 placing a 25-percent tariff on most imported steel and a 10-percent tariff on most imported aluminum. Imports from Canada and Mexico provisionally were excluded from the tariffs.
Organizations such as the United Steelworkers union and the Alliance for American Manufacturing praised the president's action as a way to redress the U.S. trade deficit and encourage job creation.
However, organizations such as the U.S. Tire Manufacturers Association (USTMA) and the Auto Care Association criticized the new tariffs.
In particular, the USTMA said placing tariffs on tire-grade steel imports would hurt the domestic tire manufacturing industry, because tire-grade steel is not manufactured in the U.S.
Commerce is accepting comments on the interim final rule until May 18. The document can be found here.