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Morris Manning & Martin, LLP

U.S. Election: Biden Win Could Spark Revision, Phase-out of Section 232 Steel, Aluminum Tariffs

10.09.2020

The implementation of the Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs under President Donald Trump could be revised or phased out under a new administration if Democratic contender Joe Biden wins the U.S. presidential election in November, but any changes to the trade program would not be immediate, according to trade experts.

Biden may find himself in a "trickier spot" as his administration will likely not be able to simply remove the tariffs that Trump imposed in 2018, Will Planert tells S&P Global Platts, a division of S&P Global. 

"It would be very hard for the Democratic constituency to tell the steel industry and the unions that they're just lifting these duties now and opening our shores to more imports," Planert said in a recent interview.

Planert said he expects a Biden administration to instead strategically replace the steel and aluminum tariffs.

"What you will see is ways for them to try and rationalize these duties," he said. "You will see ways for them to negotiate broader deals to phase them out and eliminate them."

If a Biden victory is accompanied by Democratic majorities in Congress, Planert said there may also be legislative efforts aimed at modifying Section 232 by requiring time limits on tariffs or Congressional approval in some capacity.

Planert said such actions related to the Section 232 tariffs would "rein the process in a little bit and make it tougher for a president to just impose them at his own whim."

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