Press Release: Domestic Producers Tell Congress “Hands Off” Section 232 Tariff Authority

April 30, 2019

Domestic Producers Tell Congress “Hands Off” Section 232 Tariff Authority

Send letter urging support for key pillar of US trade law

Washington. More than 50 different organizations have sent a letter to Congress opposing efforts to weaken a part of US trade law known as Section 232. In 2018, the Trump administration imposed Section 232 tariffs against global overcapacity that was decimating America’s steel and aluminum sectors while  threatening national security. The letter’s signatories—including individual companies and trade organizations in such diverse sectors as agriculture, textiles, tooling, and plastics—consider Section 232 to be a crucial part of US trade law for all industries.

“Other countries have national strategies to develop their industries and to target the US consumer market,” said Michael Stumo, CEO of the Coalition for a Prosperous America (CPA). “These predatory strategies can negatively impact our national security. Threats like that can emerge, change, or evolve quickly. Future presidents should maintain the full flexibility, under Section 232, to assess and respond to these national, and even economic, security threats in a timely manner.”

Among the organizations supporting Section 232 is the the Rochester Technology and Manufacturing Association (RTMA). The group’s executive director, Kevin Kelley, said, “The executive branch must retain the ability to impose Section 232 tariffs when crucial domestic industries are under assault from foreign competition. Weakening this important remedy is incredibly short-sighted and could have serious repercussions for national and economic security.”

Section 232 of U.S. trade law provides the executive branch with authority to address economic threats to vital U.S. industries. Last year, the Trump administration initiated a lengthy Section 232 investigation into declining US steel and aluminum production. The investigation found troubling national and economic security implications from global excess capacity. President Trump subsequently imposed 232 tariffs on both steel and aluminum. CPA research has documented the resulting success of the tariffs in growing the US economy. 

Section 232 can be applied to any US industry in which an import glut threatens their existence and impacts national security. The ranching and cattle group R-CALF USA signed the letter, and the group’s CEO, Bill Bullard, said, “Protecting America’s national and economic security is important to all of us. America’s ranchers and farmers are all too familiar with an increasing tide of imports that threatens rural America and the existence of our industry. We welcome the chance to support domestic producers facing similar challenges. Congress should be strengthening trade laws, not weakening them.”

Dennis LaComb, Vice President of the Technology and Manufacturing Association (TMA), added, “If anything, Section 232 authority should be expanded. The United States faces a wide array of global threats to key industries, and many of these sectors contribute to both the nation’s wider economic security and the US military supply chain. Congress should be standing up for these industries, not acquiescing to the self-serving interests of multinational enterprises.”

The National Council of Textile Organization (NCTO) echoed LaComb’s concerns. CEO Auggie Tantillo said, “There are many, diverse industries besides steel and aluminum that support Section 232. It’s an important trade remedy for domestic companies and workers that produce goods for America’s consumers and the nation’s armed forces.”

Click here to read the letter to Congress.

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