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Opening Statement by Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross at the Senate Committee on Finance


Chairman Hatch, Ranking Member Wyden, and Members of the Committee, thank you for inviting me here today to discuss the actions we have taken to assure the continued viability of our important steel and aluminum industries.

The reports I submitted to the president this past January, pursuant to section 232 of the trade expansion act of 1962 found that steel and aluminum imports threaten to impair our national security. The President determined that tariffs are the necessary means to address these threats. As a result, The President signed proclamations on March 8,  imposing a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports.

The tariff actions taken by the President are necessary to revive America’s essential steel and aluminum industries. They have been harmed by imports to the point that allowing imports to continue unchecked threatens to impair our national security.

 The tariffs on steel and aluminum are anticipated to reduce imports to levels needed for these industries to achieve long-term viability. In the short-term, sense the imposition of the section 232 tariffs, industry already has started taking actions to restart idled facility. Idled steel and aluminum capacity is being restarted as we sit here in Illinois, Ohio, South Carolina, Missouri, and Kentucky. Several other companies have also announced new investments in these industries in Oklahoma, Florida, Missouri, and Texas. In addition, the President authorized the establishment of a mechanism for U.S. parties to apply for exclusions form the tariff for specific products based on demand that is unmet by domestic production or for a specific national security consideration.

Today we are announcing our first determinations on 98 exclusion requests for steel products, granting 42 and denying 56. Commerce has received more than 20,000 steel and aluminum exclusion requests, including resubmissions, and has posted more than 9,200 for public review and comment. Commerce also has received more than 2,300 objections to exclusion requests. Review of exclusion requests and related objections is being conducted, as it must be, on a case by case basis. But we have made some major progress in reforming and improving the process, and I’ll describe a couple now. First of all, We’ll be accelerating the processing of exclusion requests by immediately granting those which are correctly submitted in full, which no objections have been received during the public comment period. Commerce is making an unprecedented effort to process the requests expeditiously. We also are developing a list of downstream products that have been hurt by imports since the tariffs have been imposed, and we are incorporating as many of these as are logical to the list. We are recommending for inclusion in the 301 tariff listing of 200 Billion that will be released shortly. We have already found some 50 Products that will be included in that list. The public comment period on the interim final rule for these decisions ended on May 18th, and we’re reviewing the comments received to assess whether any further revisions to the process are necessary.

Finally, on May 23rd, after a conversation with the President, I initiated a proceeding under Section 232 to determine whether imports of automobiles and automotive parts in to the united states threaten to impair the national security. This investigation will examine the United States production capabilities and the technologies needed for projected national defense requirements, as well, as the adverse effects of foreign competition on pour Internal economy.

In conclusion, this administration is standing up for American families, American businesses, and American workers by taking action to reduce imports that threaten our National Security.

I thank you, and I look forward to answering questions from the members of the committee.