On May 16, 2019, President Donald Trump issued a proclamation reducing Section 232 tariffs on steel imports from Turkey from 50 percent to 25 percent, which had been in effect since August 2018 (see Trump and Trade Update of August 17, 2018). This tariff decrease will become effective May 21, 2019, at 12:01 a.m. Eastern time. In support of the decision, the president referenced the steep decrease in steel imports from Turkey (48 percent in 2018) and steel imports generally (12 percent in 2018), as well as the increased capacity utilization of the U.S. steel industry.
On the same day, Trump issued another presidential proclamation terminating as of May 17, 2019, Turkey’s designation as a beneficiary developing country under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP) program. Turkey had been participating in the GSP program since 1975. In his decision to terminate Turkey’s designation, the president explained that Turkey’s level of economic development is high enough to be removed from the list of beneficiary countries. This decision follows the March 4, 2019, announcement of the U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) expressing the president’s intention to terminate Turkey’s designation due to the higher level of economic development of Turkey evidenced by “[a]n increase in Gross National Income (GNI) per capita, declining poverty rates, and export diversification, by trading partner and by sector” (see also Trump and Trade Update of March 5, 2019). Because of Turkey’s designation now as a developed country, Trump in the same proclamation announced that Turkey is no longer exempt from Section 201 safeguard measures and is now subject to Section 201 tariffs currently in place on imports of crystalline silicon photovoltaic cells and large residential washers.