US to allow Section 232 product exemptions for South Korea, Brazil, Argentina

US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation this week that will allow companies to request product-specific exclusions for steel imports from South Korea, Brazil and Argentina, along with aluminium imports from Argentina, even after import quotas from those countries are filled.

The proclamation, signed on Wednesday August 29, also allows US steel consumers who ordered foreign steel before March 8 via written contract to import such steel – under certain conditions – even if it exceeds these country-specific quotas. Such consumers must still pay the standard 25% Section 232 tariffs.

This steel, which could be key for projects that employ thousands of US workers, must be imported before March 2019, according to the proclamation. Such projects might have been “significantly disrupted or delayed” because imports met the barrier of a hard quota and could not enter the US, even if companies ordered steel before Trump’s initial Section 232 announcement, it added.

This development might produce “very modest changes to existing trade flows” but could also have broader impacts on Brazilian and South Korean slab, grain-oriented electrical steels (GOES) and pipe and tube products, KeyBanc Capital Markets analyst Philip Gibbs said.

This is a developing story.