On May 17, 2024, the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) published a Final Rule revising the Section 232 tariff exclusion process for imported steel and aluminum products. These changes, effective July 1, 2024, are intended “to refine the framework under which exclusions from the tariffs on steel and aluminum can be requested, ensuring a fairer and more transparent process.”  The revisions remove 12 General Approved Exclusions (GAEs), six for steel and six for aluminum, that were added in December 2020. BIS originally established GAEs to streamline the exclusion process for products consistently found not to be produced in sufficient quantity or quality in the United States.  In announcing the removal of these 12 GAEs, BIS stated that “[r]eversing previous exemptions that facilitated imports of these metals aims to strengthen our U.S. industrial base and our national security by reducing reliance on foreign manufacturing and enhancing domestic production of steel and aluminum.”

In March 2018, former President Donald Trump issued presidential proclamations imposing additional tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel pursuant to Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962.  These proclamations authorized BIS to grant exclusions if it was determined the steel or aluminum article for which the exclusion is requested is not “produced in the United States in a sufficient and reasonably available amount or of a satisfactory quality” or should be excluded “based upon specific national security considerations.”  Since implementation of these tariffs, BIS has issued five interim final rules to establish, revise and update this exclusion process.  In December 2020, BIS issued the interim rule establishing GAEs in an effort to reduce the number of exclusion requests for products consistently found not to be produced in the United States.  See Update of December 11, 2020.  In August 2023, BIS proposed several revisions to the Section 232 tariff exclusion process, including adjustments to the criteria for identifying GAEs, the introduction of new General Denied Exclusions (GDEs), and the introduction of new certification requirements for both requestors and objectors.  See Update of August 30, 2023.

The May 17, 2024 Final Rule removes the following GAEs:

  • Six GAEs for steel: GAE.24.S: 7211296080; GAE.43.S: 7209900000; GAE.46.S: 7216330090; GAE.84.S: 7209270000; GAE.90.S: 7216100010; and GAE.93.S: 7208380015; and
  • Six GAEs for aluminum: GAE.1.A: 7609000000; GAE.4.A: 7604210010; GAE.5.A: 7604291010; GAE.9.A: 7601209080; GAE.10.A: 7607116010; and GAE.13.A: 7604295090.

As a result, the steel and aluminum articles specified by these 12 GAEs will revert to the duties and treatment previously established under the March 2018 presidential proclamations (as revised by President Joseph Biden).  According to BIS, the suspension of these 12 GAEs will not substantially increase the total volume of submitted exclusion requests in the Section 232 Exclusions Portal.  This Final Rule makes no additional changes to the other remaining 81 GAEs.