Commerce Department Signals that Findings in Section 232 Investigations on Steel and Aluminum are Imminent

The Commerce Department has signaled that it will issue findings in its respective Section 232” investigations covering imports of steel and aluminum before the end of June. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (19 U.S.C. § 1862) grants the U.S. Department of Commerce the authority to conduct an investigation to determine whether imports of particular merchandise threaten the national security. The Commerce Department then issues its findings, along with a recommendation for action, to the President. A conclusion that imports of steel or aluminum threaten the national security allows the President to decide whether to adjust or modify the volumes or prices of imports of foreign-made steel or aluminum into the United States.

The Commerce Department initiated the Section 232 investigations on steel and aluminum at the end of April. Normally, the agency may take up to 270 days to conduct its investigation and issue findings to the President. In this unique situation, however, the agency is conducting expedited investigations which is why its findings will be issued much more quickly than in past Section 232 investigations.

In the course of a Section 232 investigation, the Commerce Department examines a number of factors to determine whether imports of particular merchandise threaten the national security. These include, but are not limited to: requirements of the defense and essential civilian sectors; growth requirements of the domestic industry(ies) to meet national defense requirements; quantity, availability, character, and use of a particular imported article, or other circumstances related to its importation, and their effect on the national security; the impact of foreign competition on the economic welfare of the essential domestic industry; the loss of skills and investment in government revenue; and the displacement of any domestic products causing substantial unemployment, decrease in the revenues of government, loss of investment or specialized skills and productive capacity.

Indications are the Commerce Department will recommend to the President that some form of action be taken with respect to imports of steel and aluminum. What remains to be answered is the specific type of action recommended to the President, including, the particular steel and aluminum imports subject to action, the foreign countries from which imports are affected, and the length of time or duration of any recommended action in each investigation.