Trump imposes ‘flexible’ steel and aluminum tariffs

Capping a week of speculation and Republican Party in-fighting, U.S. President Donald Trump has issued presidential proclamations establishing a 25% import tariff on steel products and a 10% tariff on aluminum.

However, the President’s earlier statements that there would be no exceptions to these tariffs has softened, and Trump has announced exemptions for Canada and Mexico. Canada was among the top three exporters of steel into the United States in 2016.

Additionally, the President has stated that any nation with which the United States has a “security relationship” is welcome to discuss alternative ways to address the damage which the U.S. Commerce Department finds has been done to domestic production.

Within 10 days, Commerce will issue procedures for requesting exclusions to the tariffs, and the import duties will take affect on March 23, 2018.

As reported yesterday, IHS Markit has estimated that these tariffs will result in a 1-3 cent increase in the cost of solar racking, tracking and mounting systems, with the greatest impact to tracking systems. However, this was before the exemptions for Canada and Mexico were announced, and it is unclear at this time how much this will change the outcome.

Additionally, both the European Union and China have already begun to openly discuss retaliatory tariffs on U.S. products.