An onerous, expensive, and confusing process for steel and aluminum tariff exclusions is at the center of a letter from the Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association to the leaders of the Trade Subcommittee of the House Committee on Ways and Means. MEMA asserts in the letter that the process is “opaque, inconsistent, and inaccessible” and that U.S. companies “have described the experience as arbitrary and capricious, lacking substantial evidence for the denial determinations.”
The letter, which was submitted August 7 for the record on the Subcommittee’s hearing on “Product Exclusions Process for Section 232 Tariffs on Steel and Aluminum,” provides multiple remedies for an exclusion process that has proven ineffective. The letter also highlights the fact that little progress has been made on improving the process since it was started by the Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS), despite loud and consistent complaints.
“The product exclusions process for steel and aluminum as administered by BIS has proven to be unworkable for suppliers and unnecessarily difficult and burdensome for applicants,” the letter says. “This process is putting U.S. jobs and investment at risk and MEMA urges this subcommittee to work with the administration to improve the exclusion process.”
Although BIS has created a “FAQ” document, it was not posted until four months later, and the response to the call for a clearer process has been largely unheeded, the letter says.
“As of today, no further changes have been made by BIS or Commerce,” the letter says. “The exclusion application process continues to be problematic and uncertain for many suppliers.”
In written and oral testimony before the Trump administration, MEMA has warned that tariffs that prevent or encumber motor vehicle parts suppliers’ ability to obtain certain types of steel and aluminum could jeopardize production of critical products made for the U.S. defense industry and could destabilize a growing U.S. manufacturing job base. MEMA continues to reiterate its warning that steep, across-the-board tariffs on aluminum and steel coming into the United States is dangerous and could put the very jobs and competitiveness the administration hopes to help in harm’s way.