IMPLEMENTATION LEVEL

National

AFFECTED FLOW

Inflow

ANNOUNCED AS TEMPORARY

No

NON-TRADE-RELATED RATIONALE

No

ELIGIBLE FIRMS

all

JUMBO

No

TARIFF PEAK

No
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Inception date: No inception date

Import-related non-tariff measure, nes

On July 18, 2018 Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross announced that he has launched an investigation into whether the present quantity and circumstances of uranium ore and product imports into the United States threaten to impair national security. The investigation will canvass the entire uranium sector from the mining industry through enrichment, defense, and industrial consumption. It could lead to the imposition of restrictions on uranium imports.

This case has its roots in a petition submitted on January 16, 2018 by Ur-Energy Inc. and Energy Fuels Inc. under the national security provision of U.S. trade law. The Commerce Department decision follows consultation with industry stakeholders, members of Congress, the Department of Defense, Department of Energy, and other administration partners. According to the department, key considerations prompting the investigation include the following:

  • Uranium powers 99 U.S. commercial nuclear reactors that produce 20 percent of the electricity for the U.S. electric grid, a key element to U.S. critical infrastructure.
  • Uranium is a required component of our nuclear arsenal and is used to power the Navy’s nuclear fleet of submarines and aircraft carriers.
  • U.S. uranium production had been 49 percent of U.S. requirements in 1987. Today, U.S. uranium production has dropped to only five percent of U.S. requirements.
  • Three U.S. companies with mining operations have been idled in recent years. 
  • Two U.S. petitioners, accounting for over half of all uranium mined in the U.S., have laid off over half their workforce over the last two years and operate at roughly nine percent and 13 percent of capacity respectively.
  • Shuttered mines would take years to reopen under current environmental permitting regulations.

Section 232(b)(1)(A) of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 provides broad authority for the imposition of restrictions on imports that are found to impair national security, typically in cases where those imports are alleged to suppress domestic production and/or lead to dependence on foreign sources for items that are considered vital to national security. The statute and its predecessors date to the 1950s, and has often been associated with energy security. It has rarely been invoked, and it reached its high-water mark in the 1970s and 1980s. The law was recently revived when the Trump administration self-initiated investigations of steel and aluminum. The law may be invoked if the secretary of commerce finds that uranium is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security. Such a finding may lead him to recommend actions and steps that should be taken to adjust these imports so that they will not threaten to impair the national security; the imposition of those measures would be a policy decision. The secretary has up to 270 days to conduct the investigation, although in practice such deadlines are not always met.

Uranium was previously the subject of a section 232 investigation in 1989 that did not lead to the imposition of restrictions.

The original petition sought remedies which will set a quota to limit imports of uranium into the U.S., effectively reserving 25% of the U.S. nuclear market for U.S. uranium production. Additionally, the petition proposed implementation of a requirement for U.S. federal utilities and agencies to buy U.S. uranium in accordance with the Buy American Policy. These remedies are expected to result in U.S. utilities purchasing approximately 12 million pounds of uranium per year from U.S. production.

 

AFFECTED COUNTRIES

MAP
TABLE
EXPORT

AFFECTED SECTORS AND PRODUCTS

336 Radioactive elements or residues & prodcuts containing them
2844 Radioactive chemical elements and radioactive isotopes (including the fissile or fertile chemical elements and isotopes) and their compounds; mixtures and residues containing these products.
284410 Natural uranium and its compounds; alloys, dispersions (including cermets), ceramic products and mixtures containing natural uranium or natural uranium compounds
284420 Uranium enriched in U 235 and its compounds; plutonium and its compounds; alloys, dispersions (including cermets), ceramic products and mixtures containing uranium enriched in U 235, plutonium or compounds of these products

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