The Motor and Equipment Manufacturers Association (MEMA) endorsed a letter signed by 39 Congressional members raising concerns that the product exclusion process for aluminum and steel tariffs is moving too slowly.
The letter, address to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross, says the slow-moving exclusion for Section 232 tariffs is creating a backlog of requests that places an “undue burden” on manufacturers and urges Ross to make changes that allow the process to proceed more quickly.
More than 7,700 comments and submissions for product exclusions have been filed with the Department of Commerce on the issue, MEMA said. Less than a third have been processed and posted on the docket.
“That is far too slow of a pace given the volume and the fact that this process is over a month and a half old,” members of Congress said in the letter. The letter goes on to detail 10 steps they urge the Department of Commerce to take to fix the problem.
The letter from the Representatives, which was led by Reps. Jackie Walorski (R-Ind.) and Ron Kind (D-Wis.), is bipartisan and agrees with several public statements MEMA made raising concerns over the 232 steel and aluminum tariffs.
“The sheer volume of submissions requesting product exclusions gives us reason for concern,” said Bill Long, MEMA’s executive vice president of government affairs. “This apparent backlog creates uncertainty for our members, which puts businesses – and jobs – at risk.
“If you are importing steel from any country that is not exempted, you are paying a tariff now, even if you have filed for an exclusion. That could mean tying up millions of dollars that a business would rather invest in facilities and people. MEMA has said all along that tariffs would put jobs at risk, and this process seems to be proving us right.
“American businesses need a clear and predictable business environment to thrive in a global marketplace.”
MEMA said it was pleased that the Trump administration extended the exemption from steel and aluminum tariffs on the European Union, Canada and Mexico until June 1. Further, the indication that agreements in principle have been reached with Australia, Argentina and Brazil is welcome news to the industry.
“As the specifics of these agreements are finalized, we urge the administration to consider the challenge and uncertainty that placing quotas on steel and aluminum from these countries could cause.” the association said. “We sincerely hope that these latest announcements signal a willingness to consider the implications of broadly applied Sec. 232 steel and aluminum tariffs triggered by the administration in March.”
MEMA also supports President Trump’s efforts to assure fair trade and strengthen the nation’s economy but says the 232 tariffs hurt motor vehicle component manufacturers who employ more than 871,000 Americans.
“Many specialty steel and aluminum materials imported by motor vehicle suppliers are used by hundreds of vehicle parts manufacturers operating in an integrated, complex global supply chain,” MEMA said.
“Suppliers’ access to these specialized products – which are often only available by one or two sources in the world – is critical to the industry and our national economy.
The organization suggested several steps for alleviating the burden the exclusion process places on manufacturers, including proving relief to applicants who experience undue delays, simplifying the application process and allowing trade associations like MEMA to apply for exclusions on behalf of the industry.
For more information on the Section 232 tariffs, please visit MEMA’s Trade Resources Page.