Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (19 U.S.C. §1862) authorizes the Secretary of Commerce to conduct comprehensive investigations to determine the effects of imports of any article on the national security of the United States. Section 232 investigations include consideration of:
- domestic production needed for projected national defense requirements;
- domestic industry’s capacity to meet those requirements;
- related human and material resources;
- the importation of goods in terms of their quantities and use;
- the close relation of national economic welfare to U.S. national security;
- loss of skills or investment, substantial unemployment and decrease in government revenue; and
- the impact of foreign competition on specific domestic industries and the impact of displacement of any domestic products by excessive imports.
Section 232 requires that the Secretary notify the Secretary of Defense that an investigation has been initiated. The Secretary also consults with the Secretary of Defense regarding methodological and policy questions raised in the investigation and can seek information and advice from other government agencies.
The Secretary’s report to the President, prepared within 270 days of initiation, focuses on whether the importation of the article in question is in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten to impair the national security. The President can concur or not with the Secretary's recommendations, and, if necessary, take action to “adjust the imports of an article and its derivatives.” In addition, the Secretary can recommend, and the President can take, other lawful non-trade related actions necessary to address the threat.
Since 1980, the Commerce Department has conducted fourteen Section 232 investigations. Past investigations and remedies have included the following:
- Integrated Circuit Ceramic Packaging – 1992
- Defense provided research and development funding for industry
- Antifriction Bearings – 1988
- Implementation of Buy American restrictions on super precision bearings for jet engines and miniature and instrument precision bearings for guidance systems
- Metal Cutting and Forming Machine Tools – 1986
- Voluntary restraint agreements with multiple countries on imports and an aggressive domestic industry competitiveness action plan
For more information about Section 232 investigations, please visit: www.bis.doc.gov/232