On August 28, 2020, President Donald Trump issued a Presidential Proclamation No. 10064 to adjust U.S. imports of steel from Brazil for national security reasons. In May 2018, President Trump granted an exemption for Brazilian steel products from additional tariffs imposed under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, which provides the president with authority to adjust imports entering the United States in quantities or under circumstances that threaten to impair national security. Through negotiations, certain countries – including Brazil – agreed to restrict their U.S. shipments and, in turn, have those quota restrictions exempt from the 25 percent additional tariff implemented by the Department of Commerce. While this exemption was maintained in 2019 for Brazil, U.S. Trade Representative (USTR) Robert Lighthizer indicated in a press statement that in 2020, “in light of recent deterioration in market conditions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic affecting domestic steel producers, the United States has deemed it necessary to reduce the remaining quota for Brazilian semi-finished steel products for the remainder of 2020.” Pursuant to the proclamation, the United States will reduce semi-finished steel imports from Brazil to 60,000 metric tons (60,000,000 kilograms), down from 350,000 metric tons for the remainder of calendar year 2020, but will maintain existing quotas for other steel imports from Brazil.
The proclamation continues to provide relief from the quota “in certain limited circumstances” for blooms, billets and slabs, semi-finished, provided for in HTS subheadings 7207.11.00, 7207.12.00, 7207.19.00, 7207.20.00 or 7224.90.00 (except for statistic reporting number 7224.90.0015, 7224.90.0025 and 7224.90.0035). In order to be eligible for this relief, the party requesting relief must have entered into a contract for the production of such Brazilian steel articles before August 28, 2020; must have an agreement that specifies the quantity of the steel and provides for a shipment date prior to December 31, 2020; must use the steel in the United States and the steel article cannot be procured from another supplier to meet necessary specifications and the delivery schedule; and must certify that the lack of relief from the quota limitation would significantly disrupt production activity in the United States. The proclamation states that the volume of imports that will be granted relief may not exceed 60,000,000 kilograms in the aggregate
Beginning with calendar year 2021, “the annual aggregate limit for Brazil shall revert to the aggregate limit for Brazil set forth in the Annex to Proclamation 9759” (i.e., the original import quota announced on May 31, 2018). The proclamation also notes, however, that the United States and Brazil will hold further consultations about the semi-finished steel quota for 2021 in December 2020 and discuss “the state of the steel trade between the two countries in light of then-prevailing market conditions.”