US Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross said the Bureau of Industry and Security had begun production exclusions on steel imports based on a “balanced approach that accounts for the needs of downstream industries while also recognizing the threatened impairment of national security caused by imports.”
The US Department of Commerce accepted 42 exclusion requests covering seven different companies importing steel from Japan, China, Sweden, Belgium and Germany.
The companies benefiting from the exemptions include Schick Manufacturing, Nachi America, Hankev International, Zapp Precision Wire, US Leakless, Woodings Industrial Corp and PolyVision Corp.
The US Department of Commerce did not state which steel products were exempted, but 56 other exclusion requests from another 11 companies were denied.
China filed a complaint against the US on April 10
over import duties on steel and aluminium goods, claiming that the import duties were inconsistent with the World Trade Organization's General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (Gatt) 1994 and the WTO Agreement on Safeguards.
The Chinese steel markets have not been affected too much by the US Section 232 steel tariffs, largely due to the fact that the US is not a key export destination for China.
China exported 740,126 tonnes of steel to the US in 2017, including 148,144 tonnes of wire, 63,223 tonnes of tinplate, 61,514 tonnes of pipe and 59,607 tonnes of bar products.
Japan's flat steel shipments to the US in 2017, included 247,181 tonnes of hot-rolled sheet, 32,975 tonnes of cold-rolled coil, 38,803 tonnes of hot-dipped galvanized sheet and 31,655 tonnes of other metallic-coated sheets and strips, with a large proportion of these going to Japanese automobile manufacturers in the US.
Japan's minister of economy, trade and industry Hiroshige Seko said on May 1 that that it was "regrettable" that the US had not exempted Japan from the unilateral tariffs and that Japan would continue to request permanent exemption from the trade measures.
However, after the tariffs were imposed he said that "retaliating with unilateral, non-WTO compliant measures would not benefit any country in the world."
Other countries, meanwhile, have threatened retaliatory tariffs in response to the unilaterally-imposed Section 232 duties, with Russia
, the European Union
looking to impose their own tariffs on US-origin goods.