The US will raise tariffs on Ukrainian steel

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration will announce that it will raise tariffs on Ukrainian steel for a year, holding in hand a measure that President Donald J. Trump imposed on that country and many others in 2018, according to a copy of the announcement that will be aired on Monday and was seen by the New York Times.

The move comes as the Biden administration looks for ways to assist Ukraine during the Russian invasion. Ukraine is a fairly secondary supplier of US steel, with shipments of around 218,000 tons in 2019, ranking 12th among US foreign suppliers. However, the sector is a significant source of economic growth and employment for Ukraine, and the steel mills continued to provide paychecks, food and shelter to their workers throughout the war.

When Ukrainian Prime Minister Denys Shmyhal visited Washington last month, he told administration officials that some Ukrainian steel mills were restarting production after the initial shutdown due to the invasion. He asked the Biden administration to suspend tariffs, a senior Commerce Department official said Monday that he was not authorized to speak publicly before the official announcement.

The United States imposed a 25% tariff on foreign steel and a 10% tariff on foreign aluminum three years ago for national security reasons, arguing that a wave of cheap metal had decimated American production, threatening its military and industrial capability.

Ukraine is a major steel producer, ranking 13th globally. Most of the country’s factories and other economic activities were frozen as workers were called to fight and shipments of parts and raw materials were stopped during the war. Many of the major Ukrainian steel mills shut down their operations at the end of February due to severe disruptions to the logistical routes needed to ship the metal out of the country. S&P Global analysts said.

The senior Commerce Department official said Ukrainian steel mills have been cut off from some of their more traditional markets in the Middle East and Africa, as shipping routes across the Black Sea. To continue supporting its plants, the government Ukrainian now aims to move steel by rail to Romania, and then to markets in Europe, Britain and the United States, the official said.

The Commerce Department noted that the steel industry is of paramount importance to Ukraine’s economic strength, employing 1 in 13 people.

A steel mill in Mariupol besieged by Russian forces it hosted thousands of Ukrainian soldiers and civilians for weeks. Russian and Ukrainian officials She said Saturday that all women, children and the elderly who had been trapped in the plant for weeks were evacuated.

“For steel mills to continue to be an economic lifeline for the Ukrainian people, they need to be able to export their steel,” said Gina M. Raimondo, trade secretary, in the announcement. Today’s announcement is a signal to the Ukrainian people that we are committed to helping them thrive in the face of Putin’s aggression and that his work will create a stronger Ukraine, both today and in the future. “

The move adds to a series of economic measures aimed at penalizing Russia and assisting Ukraine. These include a wide range of sanctions against Russian entities, export controls that have restricted Russian imports and 3.8 billion dollars in weapons and equipment for the Ukrainian government, as well as other direct financial assistance.

Last month, senators called on the administration to lift tariffs on steel, saying it would help the industry recover soon after the war.

“Raise the US tariff on steel from Ukraine it is a small but significant way for the United States to signal support for Ukraine and provide stability, “Senator Patrick J. Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, Democrat of California, wrote in a letter.

Many other major steel-producing countries have seen tariffs rise or fall. During his presidency, Trump negotiated deals with South Korea, Mexico, Canada and other countries to replace tariffs with tariff quotas or so-called tariff quotas, which limit the volume of a product entering the United States but allow at least some to be imported. at lower rates.

In recent months, the Biden administration has negotiated deals with the European Union, Britain and Japan to ease metal tariffs while maintaining some protections required by domestic steelmakers.

The Commerce Department official said the administration does not want to subject Ukraine to such an extended deal to change tariffs at this time, but that it would be ready to discuss a further deal after the one-year suspension expires.