The US Department of Commerce said it is to begin accepting requests today for product exclusions from US President Donald Trump’s new steel and aluminum import tariffs, but it could take up to 90 days for the agency to make determinations.
In a notice published on Saturday on the Federal Register Web site, the Commerce Department said the effective date would be today for its rules and procedures for the requests.
The move marks the formal start of a tariff exclusion process that food packagers, brewers and other companies have been preparing to use since Trump’s March 8 announcement that he was slapping a 25 percent levy on foreign steel and a 10 percent tariff on aluminum. Companies have been lining up lobbyists and lawyers across Washington in anticipation of seeking the valuable exemptions.
Under the new rule, a company can ask the Commerce Department for an exemption from the tariffs if the product “is not produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount” or is not of “satisfactory quality.” They can also make an argument on national security grounds.
The agency said it anticipates that it would receive about 4,500 requests from US businesses seeking tariff exemptions.
Even if these are granted, firms could be forced to pay higher costs due to tariffs on their imported products for up to three months.
US Customs and Border Protection has been directed to begin collecting the 25 percent tariffs on steel and 10 percent tariffs on aluminum at 12:01am on Friday.
The product-specific exclusions are distinct from a separate effort by foreign governments to get waivers. Trump has excluded Australia and, at least temporarily, Mexico and Canada, and US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer is mulling what other countries should be spared.
Additional reporting by Bloomberg
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