Countries Win Last-Hour Tariff Exemptions, But Only Temporarily

AGC Seeking Pricing Data to Analyze Impact on Construction Industry
On March 23, before the tariffs on steel and aluminum imports went into full effect, President Trump signed proclamations temporarily exempting seven U.S. allies and trading partners. It is not yet clear what effects specific country exemptions are having—or may have—on the construction industry, but AGC is asking member companies to assist in that process by forwarding pricing data, anecdotes, and even executives’ quotes to AGC’s Chief Economist Ken Simonson.
The exempted nations include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, the European Union (including the U.K.), Mexico and South Korea. The temporary exclusions are scheduled to expire May 1, “pending discussions of satisfactory long-term alternative means to address the threatened impairment to US national security,” according to the White House.
Japan, a key U.S. ally, was notably absent from the list overseen by the U.S. Trade Representative’s (USTR) office and assembled based on proof of national security relevance, intense country lobbying, and on-going trade deals. On March 27, a senior administration figure noted that countries seeking a relief from the tariffs could submit to “quotas or other restrictions,” a nod to South Korea’s recent agreement to voluntarily restrict its steel exports by 30 percent of its past three-year average. USTR has utilized voluntary export restraints (VERs) in past bilateral negotiations, namely in the early 1980s when Japan agreed to limit passenger automobile exports to the U.S., and many analysts expect VERs to play a revived role in future steel and aluminum tariff negotiations.
For more information, contact Collin Janich at collin.janich@agc.org.


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