The South African Government has noted the announcement of the President of the United States of America, Donald Trump on 8 March 2018 that he has signed proclamations to impose a 10 percent ad valorem tariff on aluminium articles and a 25 percent ad valorem tariff on steel articles.
It was further announced that the UnitedStates (US) will consider specific requests from affected domestic parties, to exclude from any adopted import restrictions those steel articles for which the Secretary of Commerce determines there is a lack of sufficient US production capacity of comparable products, or to exclude steel articles from such restrictions for specific national security-based considerations.
The proclamations make a provision for any country with which the US has a security relationship to discuss with the US alternative ways to address the threatened impairment of the national security caused by imports from that country. Should the US and that country arrive at a satisfactory alternative means to address the threat to the national security, the US President may remove or modify the restriction on steel articles imports from that country and if necessary, make any corresponding adjustments to the tariff as it applies to other countries as the national security interests require.
In relation to aluminium, the products to be affected are defined in the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) as: (a) unwrought aluminium (HTS 7601); (b) aluminium bars, rods, and profiles (HTS 7604); (c) aluminium wire (HTS 7605); (d) aluminium plate, sheet, strip, and foil (flat rolled products) (HTS 7606 and 7607); (e) aluminium tubes and pipes and tube and pipe fitting (HTS 7608 and 7609); and (f) aluminium castings and forgings (HTS 76188.8.131.52 and 76184.108.40.206), including any subsequent revisions to these HTS classifications.
The products affected in relation to steel are defined at the Harmonized Tariff Schedule (HTS) 6-digit level as: 7206.10 through 7216.50, 7216.99 through 7301.10, 7302.10, 7302.40 through 7302.90, and 7304.10 through 7306.90, including any subsequent revisions to these HTS classifications.
In addition, the Secretary of Commerce is expected to publish the Federal Register on the appeal process for US buyers to apply for exclusion within 10 days. The tariffs will be implemented on 23 March 2018, if no alternative arrangement is agreed to with individual countries.
South Africa is studying the proclamations and its implications for the domestic industry in South Africa. South Africa’s exports to the US on steel amounted to US$950 million in 2017 and accounted for 1.4% of U.S.’s global imports. In the case of aluminium, the SA exports were US$375 million in 2017, accounting for 1.6% of US imports from all global suppliers. It is clear that South Africa’s exports do not impose a threat to US industry and jobs. The SA exports are in some cases used as inputs into further processes in the US manufacturing sector thus in fact contributing to US jobs and production.
The Department of Trade and Industry (the dti) is fully engaged with the matter and continues to have discussions with the US on this issue. A formal submission will also be made to the US as is provided for in the proclamations.