Dept to study issue of steel exports to US

business May 01, 2017 01:00

By The Nation

Private sector will have to be consulted if Trump govt invokes safeguard measure that would limit imports



The Commerce Ministry has ordered its Department of International Trade to prepare information on the export of steel to the US market, said permanent secฌretary Wiboonlasana Ruamraksa.

The move is in response to the US administration’s recent announcement of an investigation into steel exports to United States. The probe will be carried out under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, which invokes nationaldefence reasons to protect US proฌduction.

Wiboonlasana said it seemed that Washington was intending to invoke the safeguard measures under the act, which could have an impact on the export of steel from Thailand to the US.

The safeguard measures restrict imports of a product temporarily if a domestic industry is seriously injured.

Under the World Trade Organisation rule regarding such safeguard measures, if the US import of steel from Thailand does not exceed 10 per cent of its total import of that commodity, Thailand should not be subject to the measฌures. The International Trade Department will therefore study in detail how much steel Thailand actually exports to the US annualฌly, she said.

She added that the US might invoke the safeguard measure against imports of other products, in which case the ministry would have to consult the private sector to seek ways to deal with the possible impacts. 

According to Agence FrancePresse, last Thursday US President Donald Trump vowed to take action to boost his country’s aluminium industry, which he claimed had been “unfairly damaged” by imports.

That followed the similar probe into steel, and came in a week when Trump escalated tensions with Canada over lumber imports and dairy exports, and then announced plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico, and threatened to pull out of Nafta entirely unless there is a “fair deal”, according to AFP.

Like the steel investigation, the aluminium probe will also be carฌried out under the littleused Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act, which invokes nationaldefence reasons to protect US proฌduction. This was used primarily in the 1970s during the oil crisis, and more recently in 2001 for steel. 

It gives the Commerce Department 270 days to investigate the issue and draft its findings after consulting with the Pentagon. The president then will have 90 days to decide whether to take any actions, which could include high tariffs on imports of the product under review, according to AFP.