WASHINGTON - The Office of the United States Trade Representative and the U.S. Department of Commerce announced today the schedule for the annual consideration of new requests for exclusions from the Section 201 steel tariffs.
In accordance with World Trade Organization rules designed to allow for the temporary restructuring of a domestic industry, President Bush announced temporary steel safeguard measures on March 5, 2002. The President's decision was made after the U.S. International Trade Commission determined that imports of certain steel products had injured the U.S. steel industry.
When the President announced the safeguard measures, he also established a procedure to exclude specific products from the increased tariffs in order to address the needs of American steel consumers who rely on certain types of steel that are not sufficiently available domestically. In the March 5, 2002 proclamation, the President instructed USTR and the Department of Commerce to further consider the exclusion requests that were pending at that time. The initial exclusion process was concluded in August 2002. New exclusion requests will be considered on an annual basis.
The first annual review process will conclude in March 2003. USTR and the Department of Commerce are requesting that exclusion requests be submitted by December 10, 2002, in order to allow sufficient time to review all requests before the March deadline. USTR and the Department of Commerce will consider exclusion requests on a case-by-case basis and grant exclusions only if they do not undermine the Section 201 remedy.
After receiving the new exclusion requests, USTR and the Department of Commerce may request supplemental information as needed, and will schedule meetings beginning in mid-January 2003 with interested persons to discuss their support or opposition to any exclusion requests. USTR and Commerce will consider all information submitted by U.S. steel consumers, U.S. steel producers, and foreign steel producers, and will make decisions based on the review of the technical and commercial merits of each request.
An exclusion request may be submitted for a product even if a request for that product was not accepted in the last round of exclusions. However, in such cases, the requestor must demonstrate that a significant change in conditions has occurred that would merit reconsideration of the request.
All requestors must complete the new questionnaire that is now available on the USTR website and submit it to the Department of Commerce by December 3, 2002. This questionnaire is an essential part of the exclusion review process.
Those objecting to the requests will be asked to provide their comments during designated review periods in December and January using the "anniversary round" objectors' questionnaire, which is also available on the USTR website. Products to be excluded from the 201 tariffs will be announced in March 2003.
USTR and the Department of Commerce will hold a public information session to review the annual exclusion filing procedures on Thursday, November 21, 2002, at 4 p.m. in Room 3407 at the Department of Commerce. The phone number for participating by teleconference is 1-800-857-4254; the pass code is 18247, and the host is Faryar Shirzad, Assistant Secretary for Import Administration at the Department of Commerce. Further information about the annual exclusion process will be posted on the USTR website upon publication of the Federal Register notice, scheduled for today Tuesday, November 19.