ANNOUNCEMENT 06 Aug 2020
President Trump reimposed on imports of non-alloyed unwrought aluminum from Canada.
NUMBER OF INTERVENTIONS
The White House, Proclamation on Adjusting Imports of Aluminum Into the United States, issued on 6 August 2020: https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-actions/proclamation-adjusting-imports-aluminum-united-states-080620/. See also https://ustr.gov/about-us/policy-offices/press-office/press-releases/2020/september/ustr-statement-canadian-aluminum.
On August 6, 2020 President Trump reimposed an import duty on imports of aluminum from Canada. The rate of duty was 10%. This measure proved to be shortlived, however, with the USTR announcing on September 15, 2020 that after consultations with Canada, "the United States has determined that trade in non-alloyed, unwrought aluminum is likely to normalize in the last four months of 2020" and that "the United States will resume duty-free treatment of non-alloyed, unwrought aluminum retroactive to September 1, 2020." The agency nonetheless warned that, "Six weeks after the end of any month during this period, the United States will determine whether actual shipments met expectations. If actual shipments exceeded 105 percent of the expected volume for any month during the four-month period, then the United States will impose the 10 percent tariff retroactively on all shipments made in that month."
These were the latest in a series of shifts in U.S. policy that stretch back to 2018. The duty had originally been imposed on March 8, 2018, but was then excluded from the wider order on May 19, 2019. Those original restrictions had been imposed for reasons of national security, with the president invoking — and reinvoking in this proclamation — his authority under section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. The proclamation is effective as of August 16, 2020, and “shall continue in effect, unless such actions are expressly reduced, modified, or terminated.”
In this context, President Trump stated in his August 6 announcement that he had been advised “that imports of non-alloyed unwrought aluminum from Canada … increased substantially in the twelve months following my decision to exclude” the Canadian products, and that “imports of these articles from Canada continue to increase,” the president “determined that the measures agreed upon with Canada are not providing an effective alternative means to address the threatened impairment to our national security from imports of aluminum from Canada” and that “it is necessary and appropriate to re-impose the 10 percent ad valorem tariff … commensurate with the tariff imposed on such articles imported from most countries.”
The president also said that the “United States will continue to monitor the implementation and effectiveness of the measures agreed upon with Canada in addressing our national security needs, including with respect to imports of other aluminum articles” so as “to ensure that exports of non-alloyed unwrought aluminum to the United States are not simply reoriented into increased exports of alloyed, further processed, or wrought aluminum articles.”
Notably, one means by which Canada (or U.S. importers of Canadian aluminum) might have challenged this reimposition of the section 232 restrictions is to cite the recent determination by the Court of International Trade that placed important procedural limits on the president’s authority to utilize this authority.