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ICYMI: New Democrat Coalition Urges End to Harmful Steel and Aluminum Tariffs on Allies and Close Trading Partners

Today, New Democrat Coalition (NDC) Trade Task Force Co-Chairs Ron Kind (WI-03) and Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07), NDC Chair Suzan DelBene (WA-01), and NDC Vice Chair for Policy Rep. Scott Peters (CA-52) sent a letter to Secretary of Commerce Gina Raimondo and United States Trade Representative Katherine Tai, urging them to transition away from Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum on our allies and closest trading partners. 

NDC trade policy leaders urge for progress toward an agreement with the European Union to eliminate the tariffs which have adversely affected U.S. workers, producers, and domestic manufacturers without effectively addressing the global overcapacity challenge. Instead, the U.S. should take joint actions with the E.U. and other partners to address global overcapacity, driven largely by non-market economies like China, in a way that does not restrict economic growth or hurt American jobs and allies.

"I commend President Biden, Secretary Raimondo, and Ambassador Tai for their attention to developing a stronger framework with the European Union to address global overcapacity in the steel and aluminum markets. I've long been critical of the prior administration's use of national security tariffs on our close allies, and the damaging effect these tariffs and retaliatory tariffs from the EU have had on Wisconsin workers, manufacturers, and producers,” said NDC Trade Task Force Co-Chair Ron Kind (WI-03). “I'm calling on this Administration to take steps to remove these harmful tariffs on our allies, and I look forward to working with the Administration on developing a stronger, more successful strategy to help address the overcapacity challenges stemming from China and other non-compete economies."

“It is important to level the playing field for our domestic manufacturers in the United States who bear the brunt of the section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs. Instead of unilateral tariffs on our allies in the European Union, we should work together to address global oversupply of steel and aluminum markets eliminate overly restrictive tariffs to stabilize these markets,” said NDC Trade Task Force Co-Chair Lizzie Fletcher (TX-07). “I was glad to work with my New Democrat Coalition colleagues, including Trade Task Force Co-Chair Congressman Ron Kind, in urging the Department of Commerce to take action to help keep our domestic manufacturers competitive and create jobs.”

“The future of America’s hard-working middle-class heavily depends on the success of our nation’s trade policy,” said NDC Vice Chair for Policy Scott Peters (CA-52). “We should work closely with our European economic partners to move away from harmful tariffs and towards smart policies that keep jobs on our shores and affirms our global competitiveness.”

The letter reads in part, 

“The continued imposition of Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum have had significant economic consequences on U.S. manufacturers and other downstream domestic industries, in addition to a variety of American products facing retaliatory tariffs from the European Union and other trading partners. Steel and aluminum users have seen prices skyrocket while also facing increasingly delayed delivery times, further impacting their operations. Moreover, by mid-2019, one estimate found that there were about 75,000 fewer manufacturing jobs due to the higher input costs associated with the tariffs on steel alone. 

Further, the underlying challenge of global overcapacity in the steel and aluminum sectors has not improved. Indeed, global overcapacity has grown in the steel and aluminum sectors since the Section 232 tariffs were imposed, stemming mainly from nonmarket economies. A more coordinated effort with more market-centric economies like the European Union, including through multilateral fora, would be a more constructive and effective approach to address global overcapacity.” 

The NDC has long been critical of the previous administration’s use of Section 232 tariffs and are committed to a pro-growth, pro-worker trade agenda that bolsters the American economy and strengthens our alliances. Earlier this year, the NDC relaunched the Trade Task Force for the 117thCongress, which focuses on championing smart trade policy that reflects the 21st century economy and positions the U.S. as a global leader. 

The full letter can be read here and below. 

 

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Dear Secretary Raimondo and Ambassador Tai,

 

As trade policy leaders of the New Democrat Coalition, we have long been critical of the prior administration’s use of Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum. We believe it is important that the administration make progress on transitioning away from using these tariffs on our allies and closest trading partners, particularly the European Union. While we should take coordinated actions to address global overcapacity challenges in the steel and aluminum markets, we have serious reservations about the impacts these unilateral tariffs continue to have on workers, producers, and domestic manufacturers throughout the United States as well as the adverse impact it has on our trading relationships with our allies. 

We commend your ongoing discussions with the European Union to develop more effective means of addressing the global overcapacity challenge in steel and aluminum that is driven largely by nonmarket economies like China. We believe that these discussions could provide a framework for stronger coordination with other partners to better address the underlying challenges stemming from countries using unfair practices to flood the global market. Such a result would be to the benefit of workers and manufacturers throughout the nation. 

The continued imposition of Section 232 tariffs on steel and aluminum have had significant economic consequences on U.S. manufacturers and other downstream domestic industries, in addition to a variety of American products facing retaliatory tariffs from the European Union and other trading partners. Steel and aluminum users have seen prices skyrocket while also facing increasingly delayed delivery times, further impacting their operations. Moreover, by mid-2019, one estimate found that there were about 75,000 fewer manufacturing jobs due to the higher input costs associated with the tariffs on steel alone. 

Further, the underlying challenge of global overcapacity in the steel and aluminum sectors has not improved. Indeed, global overcapacity has grown in the steel and aluminum sectors since the Section 232 tariffs were imposed, stemming mainly from nonmarket economies. A more coordinated effort with more market-centric economies like the European Union, including through multilateral fora, would be a more constructive and effective approach to address global overcapacity. 

We call on the Commerce Department and Office of the United States Trade Representative to take meaningful steps toward reaching an agreement with the European Union that eliminates the steel and aluminum tariffs. We appreciate the desire to ensure appropriate safeguards to mitigate the risk of surges and transshipment from nonmarket economies, but any such agreement should avoid overly restrictive frameworks to ensure that domestic manufacturers are able to respond appropriately to market demand.  

The New Democrat Coalition is committed to smart trade policy that promotes economic growth and strengthens our global relationships. As such, we appreciate your efforts thus far to keep Congress informed about these ongoing negotiations, and we thank you for your commitment to ongoing discussions with the European Union on these pressing matters. We look forward to working with you to develop an effective model to better coordinate with our closest trading partners. 

Sincerely,

Reps. Ron Kind, Lizzie Fletcher, Suzan DelBene, and Scott Peters. 

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The New Democrat Coalition is comprised of 95 forward-thinking Democrats who are committed to pro-economic growth, pro-innovation, and fiscally responsible policies.