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CEO DATELINE – Report: Steel association big winner in tariff exemptions

Oct. 23, 2018
By Walt Williams

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Nearly one out of five tariff exemptions granted by the U.S. officials on products from China were requested by steel producers, making the industry the most successful in petitioning for relief from the most recent round of duties proposed by the Trump administration, according to an analysis by the Wall Street Journal.

The Steel Manufacturers Association petitioned the U.S. Trade Representative in September for relief on 132 tariff lines, mainly for raw materials and chemicals used in the steelmaking process. U.S. officials granted relief on 66 lines for a success rate of 50 percent.

No other industry group enjoyed the same rate of success among the 12 petitions for relief examined by the Wall Street Journal. The National Restaurant Association and National Retail Federation were granted less than 5 percent of their requested exemptions. The National Association of Home Builders only got two of its nearly 500 exemptions granted.

The large number of exemptions for the steel industry has generated criticism given its close ties to President Donald Trump. In a statement to the newspaper, USTR denied favoritism played a role in its decision-making.

“All decisions on exclusions were made by career staff at USTR,” a spokesman for the USTR said. “By far, the sector that received the most exclusions by value was consumer products.”

More than 6,000 letters were submitted by different trade groups, small businesses and corporations requesting exemptions from the tariff list.