Huttig Building Products, Inc. (Huttig) has become the latest U.S. importer to file a lawsuit against President Donald Trump’s recent Section 232 tariffs on certain steel and aluminum derivative products. In a complaint filed at the U.S. Court of International Trade (CIT), Huttig argues that the president’s January 24, 2020 Proclamation imposing a 25 percent tariff on derivative steel products and a 10 percent tariff on derivative aluminum products under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 (Section 232) is unlawful (see also, Trump and Trade Updates of January 28, 2020 and February 14, 2020).

In its complaint, Huttig alleges that “it will be adversely affected by these tariffs. Huttig did not have an opportunity to provide input into the President’s decision to impose these tariffs because the Secretary of Commerce did not undertake the required investigation or publish any report of his findings.” The complaint states that:

  • No public announcement on the implementation of these tariffs was made until the day Proclamation 9980 was signed;
  • Section 232 requires the Department of Commerce (Commerce) to investigate whether imports of the products at issue actually threaten U.S. national security;
  • Within 270 days of initiating an investigation, Commerce must submit a report to the president, within 90 days thereafter the president must decide if he agrees with the findings of the report; and within 15 days thereafter must decide what action to implement.

The complaint states that none of these statutory requirements occurred before President Trump issued the January 24, 2020 Proclamation. Without these actions, Huttig asserts, the additional tariffs were unlawful under the Section 232 statutory requirements, and Hutting was denied “equal protection of the laws as guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment’s Due Process clause.”

The complaint also states that the derivative steel and aluminum products subject to new Section 232 tariffs represent “a negligible portion” of overall U.S. imports of derivative articles of steel and aluminum and a negligible portion of the overall U.S. market for such derivative products. Because the Proclamation omits numerous steel and aluminum derivative products that “represent a far larger portion” of overall U.S. imports of such products, Huttig claims that the tariffs are “not rationally related to the purported threat to the national security of the United States.” Huttig asks the CIT to declare Proclamation 9980 void; to permanently enjoin the United States (i.e., the defendant) from implementing the Proclamation or enforcing it; and to order Customs and Border Protection to refund any duties owed.

The case is Huttig Building Products, Inc. et al. v. U.S. et al., case number 1:20-cv-00045, in the U.S. Court of International Trade.