Federal Court Upholds Trump Tariffs On Steel Imports

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Varun Hukeri General Assignment & Analysis Reporter
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A U.S. Court of International Trade ruling Thursday upheld the “Section 232” national security tariffs on steel imports that were imposed by the Trump administration in 2018.

A panel of three judges at the Court of International Trade — a federal court with jurisdiction over trade law disputes — rejected a legal challenge from steel importer Universal Steel Products that argued former President Donald Trump lacked the authority to impose the tariffs and the legal process used was “procedurally deficient.”

The court concluded in Thursday’s ruling that the Trump administration appropriately applied Section 232 of the 1963 Trade Expansion Act, which allows the president to set import restrictions on the basis of national security.

The judges noted that Section 232 “grants the president latitude in evaluating whether imports threaten the national security.” Judges Gary Katzmann and Leo Gordon added in a concurring opinion that only Congress, not the judiciary, could contest the president’s authority under Section 232.

Trump announced sweeping punitive tariffs in March 2018 that included a 25% tariff on imported steel and a 10% tariff imposed on imported aluminum.

Industry groups like the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) welcomed the decision, Reuters reported. AISI president Kevin Dempsey also urged President Joe Biden to maintain the “Section 232” tariffs amid excess global steel production from China. (RELATED: Biden Says He’ll Keep Trump’s China Trade Deal And Tariffs — At Least For Now)

“President Biden has acknowledged the importance of addressing global overcapacity and I think he understands that these tariffs are important for national security,” Dempsey said in a statement Thursday, according to Reuters.

Biden has not publicly commented on the “Section 232” tariffs but signaled earlier this week that he may continue the national security framework for import restrictions on steel.

The president reversed a tariff exemption on aluminum from the United Arab Emirates in a proclamation Monday, stating that the tariffs were “necessary and appropriate in light of our national security interests.”