The U.S. Commerce Secretary announced on May 31 that additional tariffs on steel and aluminum would be implemented under the Commerce Department’s Section 232 investigation. Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 empowers the president to act unilaterally on trade matters in the instance of a national security concern. The tariffs, which went into effect June 1, come on the heels of expired exemptions for Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

PPAI is on the record opposing any tariff proposals. Due to the increase in consumer prices that results when tariffs are applied to products, tariffs are effectively a tax on consumers. PPAI and several other groups believe imposing tariffs on America’s most important trading partners will not address the issues related to the unfair trade practices that are currently being investigated. The tariffs could further add to the risk already being faced by American workers whose jobs rely on internationally traded products—products that, once brought to the U.S., are processed and sold by American workers. Adding tariffs may make it more difficult to sell American goods in the global economy, specifically in the countries where the tariffs are being imposed.

The Section 232 tariffs are different from the tariff proposals under the Section 301 investigation, which includes a wide variety of products and product components potentially totaling a combined $150 billion. The Section 301 investigation has completed its commenting period, and the President recently announced that the U.S. Trade Representative will proceed with the list of proposed tariffs pursuant to the investigation under Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974.

Both of the trade investigations are constantly changing, and PPAI will continue to closely monitor the developments related to the Section 232 investigation and the Section 301 investigation.