ARLINGTON, VA. — The United States Department of Commerce (DOC) recently issued a preliminary ruling on imposing tariffs of up to 300% on tinplate steel materials imported into the United States from Canada, China, Germany, South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.  

Steel conglomerate Cleveland-Cliffs originally proposed the tariffs, submitting a petition to the DOC in May and causing concern for manufacturers, as tinplate is used in various canned food and pet food products. According to the Consumer Brands Association (CBA), such high tariffs would inevitably raise production costs for can and product manufacturers and, in turn, lead to price increases for consumers.

The new preliminary tariffs are much lower than Cleveland-Cliffs’ proposal and include 122% on China, 7% on Germany, 5% on Canada, and 0% on South Korea, Taiwan, Turkey, the Netherlands and United Kingdom.

“Today’s announcement from the DOC is a positive step toward protecting US consumers, domestic manufacturers and their workforce,” said David Chavern, president and chief executive officer of the CBA. “We are encouraged that our message was heard: ordinary people will inevitably bear the costs of new tariffs on tin mill steel through higher food prices and lost jobs. We’re hopeful that the final decision will solidly rebuke the claims of Cleveland-Cliffs, and the punitive outcomes on consumers and the domestic food industry that such tariffs would inflict.”

According to Chavern, since Cleveland-Cliffs first proposed the tariffs, more than 40 members of Congress and dozens of food and agricultural groups have voiced their opposition.

“The Biden administration’s analysis correctly shows zero evidence of less-than-fair-market-value steel coming from five countries: The Netherlands, Taiwan, South Korea, Turkey and the United Kingdom,” Chavern said. “The extremely low preliminary duty rates on Canada and Germany further confirms that there is no merit to dumping claims and should lead the International Trade Commission to a no-injury determination. As it finalizes its investigation, the DOC should further scrutinize its analysis and confirm that there is no reason to justify even these marginal tariffs on Canada and Germany.

“As the Biden administration continues its investigation, it’s imperative that the DOC and the International Trade Commission remain resolute in its efforts to protect all US manufacturers and consumers, and to continue its fair and equitable execution of worker-centered trade policy,” he added.

A final ruling on the issue is expected to be announced in early 2024.

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