On March 1, 2018, former President Donald Trump placed a 25% tariff on steel imports and a 10% tariff on aluminum imports during his presidency. On March 8, he issued an order to implement the tariffs 15 days later.
The World Trade Organization, which includes China, Japan, and the EU, stated on Friday that it was “not convinced” that the United States faced a “international relations emergency” that would justify tariffs.
The WTO’s Appellate body has not functioned for three years, since since the United States delayed the nomination of new judges to the panel. Thus, this argument has little weight.
In a bizarre turn of events, however, the government of President Joe Biden has sided with the administration of former President Donald Trump on steel tariffs, and the U.S. Supreme Court has now concurred.
The Supreme Court of the United States declined to hear an appeal filed by USP Holdings, which was rejected by lower courts and asserted that the Trump administration acted unlawfully in implementing the tariffs.
According to the Epoch Times, the Biden administration has mostly maintained the tariffs and argued against USP Holdings and other steel importers who claimed the levies caused them harm.
“The Biden administration understands that simply lifting steel tariffs without any solution in place, particularly beyond the dialogue, could well mean layoffs and plant closures in Pennsylvania and in Ohio and other states where obviously the impact would be felt not only economically but politically,” Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said.
“When a country (USA) is losing many billions of dollars on trade with virtually every country it does business with, trade wars are good and easy to win,” the former president said on Twitter the day after he enacted the tariffs.
“For example, when we are down $100 billion with a certain country and they get cute, don’t trade anymore—we win big. It’s easy!” he said.
The Epoch Times reported:
Trump cited Section 232 of the Trade Act of 1962, which permits the president to impose restrictions on the importation of goods deemed essential to national security. He said at the time that the tariffs were needed to bolster the production of airplanes, ships, and military materials with U.S. steel. The tariffs created tension with some U.S. allies, although some countries were exempted from the policy.
In an unsigned ruling, the Supreme Court denied the petition in USP Holdings Inc. v. United States, case number 22-565. The court did not elaborate on its ruling. No justices disagreed with the decision.
According to the petition (pdf) filed with the Supreme Court, former Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross initiated an inquiry in April 2017 to investigate if “steel was being imported under such circumstances as to harm or impair national security.”
Ross determined in a 2018 study that “domestic steel production is important for national security applications” and that steel imports were on track to account for more than 30 percent of domestic consumption. He also determined that “excessive quantities of imports have the effect of weakening the internal economy of the United States, threatening to impair the national security.”
More on this story via The Republic Brief:
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