AIIS asks Trump to exempt Turkish steel from Section 232 tariffs

The chairman of the American Institute for International Steel (AIIS), John Foster, has written to US President Donald Trump asking him to exempt Turkish steel from any tariffs or quotas to be applied under Section 232, the Turkish Steel Exporters’ Union (CIB) said on Thursday March 8.

“I have found the steel mills in [Turkey] to be privately held and often family-owned businesses that pride themselves on their cost-effectiveness and ability to compete globally, fairly and on a level playing field,” Foster’s letter said.

“Thousands of downstream jobs [in the United States] are dependent on this competitively priced steel from Turkey and [I] respectfully submit [that] the Turkish mills be exempted from any Section 232 tariffs or quotas,” he added.

Section 232 allows the US president to impose duties on any imports that are believed to pose a threat to national security.

Foster noted that he is not only the chairman of AIIS but is also “president of an independent steel trade and trade services company.”

He made his request “on behalf of all the United States manufacturers that use fairly priced and high-quality steel imported from Turkey,” he said.

And he pointed out that these US companies are in “a global economy that benefits from free trade in steel with responsible countries.”

There have been suggestions that Canada and Mexico, which with the US make up the North America Free Trade Agreement (Nafta) group, may be given exemptions from Section 232 tariffs. The CIB issued a statement on March 8 saying that the White House had said that Canada and Mexico may be granted a 30-day exemption from Section 232 tariffs to allow time for the Nafta renegotiation talks, currently under way in Mexico City, to be completed.

But such exemptions would cause several new problems and would not be right, CIB chairman Namik Ekinci said. The US is bringing the world to the edge of a trade war, he added.

Turkey and the EU have decided to act together at the World Trade Organization (WTO) to protest against the planned US tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, the Turkish Economy Ministry announced this week.

Turkey is the sixth-largest steel exporter to the US after Canada, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico and Russia.

Trump is expected to announce the official tariffs to be applied under Section 232 later on March 8.

These are expected to include a global tariff of at least 24% on steel imports from all countries; a more targeted tariff of at least 53% on steel imports from 12 countries - namely, Brazil, China, Costa Rica, Egypt, India, Malaysia, South Korea, Russia, South Africa, Thailand, Turkey and Vietnam; and a quota on all countries equal to 63% of the volume of their exports to the US in 2017.

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