Trade Expansion Act
|Public law||19 U.S.C. ch. 7|
Section 232 of the Act permits the President to impose tariffs based on a recommendation by the U.S. Secretary of Commerce if "an article is being imported into the United States in such quantities or under such circumstances as to threaten or impair the national security." This section was used only in 1979 and 1982, and had not been invoked since the creation of the World Trade Organization in 1995, until President Trump cited it on March 8, 2018 to impose tariffs on steel and aluminum.
In 1962, Congress granted the President of the United States unprecedented authority to negotiate tariff reductions of up to 80%. It paved the way for the Kennedy Round of General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT) negotiations, concluding on June 30, 1967, the last day before expiration of the Act.
On April 27, 2017, President Donald Trump ordered a review of the aluminum imports and threats to national security under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. On March 8, 2018, President Trump signed an order to impose the tariffs on steel and aluminum under Section 232 of the Act and citing "national security" grounds.
On May 23, 2018, President Trump "instructed Secretary Ross to consider initiating a Section 232 investigation into imports of automobiles, including trucks, and automotive parts to determine their effects on America’s national security. Core industries such as automobiles and automotive parts are critical to our strength as a Nation."[Notes 1]
In mid-February 2019, Commerce Department Secretary Wilbur Ross delivered a confidential report to President Trump which concluded the Department's investigation under Section 232, that there was a legal rationale for the imposition of steep tariffs on the import of foreign automobiles, as these imports—like steel and aluminum—posed a threat to U.S. national security. According to a March 20, 2019 article in Politico, the proposed tariffs could be as high as 25%.[Notes 2] Politico also reported that as of March 20, the requests by the Chair of the Senate Finance Committee—Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) to access a copy of the confidential report, had been denied. The deadline for Trump's decision on the imposition of the tariffs is in mid-May, ninety days after the report's release.
- Following weeks of investigation, Forbes published the results in a June 18, 2018 article in which they expressed concerns about Wilbur Ross' financial conflicts, for example in regards to the Section 232 tariffs and the International Automotive Components Group, that Ross had created by "merging several formerly separate automotive interior companies". Forbes said that it was problematic that Trump's "instructions" to "Secretary Ross to consider initiating a Section 232 investigation into imports of automobiles, including trucks, and automotive parts to determine their effects on America’s national security” were problematic because the U.S. imposition of "new taxes on imports of foreign cars and car parts" would "obviously...have a direct bearing on the fortunes of Ross's car parts company."
- According to a March 20, 2019 article in Politico, Trump's "allies" said that he "wants to impose a "ring tax" around U.S. borders to protect the country from foreign imports."
- McAdam, Mark (2022). "Making ideas actionable in institutionalism: the case of trade liberalization in Kennedy's foreign economic policy". Journal of Institutional Economics. doi:10.1017/S1744137421000849. ISSN 1744-1374.
- Shannon Togawa Mercer & Matthew Kahn, America Trades Down: The Legal Consequences of President Trump's Tariffs, Lawfare (March 13, 2018).
- Tom Miles, Trump's extraordinary tariffs, Reuters (March 5, 2018).
- Rehm, John B. (April 1968). "Developments in the law and institutions of international economic relations: the Kennedy Round of Trade Negotiations". The American Journal of International Law. American Society of International Law. 62 (2): 403–434. doi:10.2307/2196880. JSTOR 2196880.
- Office of the Press Secretary (April 27, 2017). "Presidential Memorandum on the Aluminum Imports and Threats to National Security under the Trade Expansion Act of 1962". whitehouse.gov. Washington, D.C.: White House. Archived from the original on 2017-04-28. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
- Korte, Gregory (April 27, 2017). "Ordering national security investigation, Trump could block aluminum imports". USA Today. McLean, Virginia: Gannett Company. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
- Lawder, David (April 27, 2017). "U.S. launches national security probe into aluminum imports". Reuters. Canary Wharf, London: Thomson Reuters. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
- Colvin, Jill; Wiseman, Paul (April 27, 2017). "Trump to order aluminum imports investigation". ABC News. New York City: ABC. Associated Press. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
- Palmer, Doug; Nussbaum, Matthew (April 27, 2017). "Trump puts aluminum imports in 'national security' crosshairs". Politico. Arlington County, Virginia: Capitol News Company. Retrieved April 27, 2017.
- Scott Horsley, Trump Formally Orders Tariffs on Steel, Aluminum Imports, All Things Considered (March 8, 2018).
- "Statement from the President on Potential National Security Investigation into Automobile Imports". whitehouse.gov. May 23, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2019 – via National Archives.
- Yglesias, Matthew (June 20, 2018). "Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross is tied up in major financial conflicts of interest". Vox. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
- "Lies, China And Putin: Solving The Mystery Of Wilbur Ross' Missing Fortune". June 18, 2018. Retrieved March 20, 2019.
- Johnson, Eliana; Restuccia, Rew (March 20, 2019). "Trump administration withholds report justifying 'shock' auto tariffs". Politico. Retrieved March 20, 2019.