CMI president voices concerns regarding aluminium and steel tariff

On 21 March 2018, CMI president Robert Budway wrote a letter to the chairman of the House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee, Kevin Brady, expressing concerns on the exclusion process for aluminium and the steel tariff.

Budway stated: “The Can Manufacturers Institute (CMI) represents US-based manufacturers of metal containers utilised in the food and beverage industry. Our members make 119 billion steel and aluminium cans in 32 states, and employ 22,000 workers across the country. We have two plants in your District employing over 300 workers which make cans for a variety of customers.

“On Monday, the Department of Commerce (DOC) published Section 232 tariff exclusion procedures for steel and aluminium in the Federal Register. DOC is currently requiring that individual companies file multiple and overlapping exclusion requests on a product-by-product basis. Moreover, DOC has indicated that any exclusion granted will be limited to the specific applicant, unless DOC approves a broader exclusion. The Federal Register notice states:

Approved exclusions will be made on a product basis and will be limited to the individual or organisation that submitted the specific exclusion request, unless Commerce approves a broader application of the product based exclusion request to apply to additional importers.

“I am writing to express concern over the requirement that our similarly situated can makers all file multiple exclusions for the very same aluminium or steel product uniformly used in our manufacturing. Our fear is that DOC will find our industry filing nearly 1,500 applications in the coming days, overwhelming DOC staff with multiple and identical exclusion requests for the very same products.

“On behalf of our members and your constituents, we would like you to ask secretary Ross to exercise his authority, as provided in the regulations, to ensure the exclusion process is streamlined and uniform. One way to accomplish this is to allow for joint exclusion petitions by similar companies in the same industry. Another is to permit, in our industry’s case, any steel or aluminium exclusion granted to one can maker to apply to all imports of that particular type of metal, regardless of supplier, to all other can makers, and not limit the decision to the single applicant.

“Granting exclusions only to each individual applicant—and only for the suppliers listed in its application—will impose unnecessary administrative burdens by requiring countless applications for the very same product. Worse, such an approach could also create a competitive imbalance in the US can making industry if one company’s request for a product exclusion is granted while another’s request for the same product is denied—or if both requests are granted, but the only approved foreign supplier for one CMI member cannot or will not deliver the excluded product.

“We believe that an affirmative determination by DOC that tinplate steel or aluminium can sheet is not currently available in the United States in a sufficient quantity or satisfactory quality should result in a general exclusion for imports of that particular product by CMI members, regardless of the specific applicant or list of suppliers.

“Accordingly, we urge you to ask secretary Ross to allow for joint exclusion petitions or utilise “a broader application of product based exclusions,” as the regulations envision, to ensure that an approved exclusion requested by one CMI member will be granted uniformly to all CMI members.

“Thank you for your leadership on this important issue to ensure a targeted and fair process that benefits American manufacturers and workers who rely on imported steel and aluminium.”

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