May 9, 2022 - Politics & Policy

Biden admin lifts tariffs on Ukrainian steel

Steel slabs sit stacked in a storage warehouse

Steel slabs sit stacked in a storage warehouse at the ArcelorMittal steel plant in Kryvyi Rih, Ukraine, in March 2019. Photo: Vincent Mundy/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S. will lift tariffs on Ukrainian steel for the next year in a bid to help Ukraine as its war with Russia continues, Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo announced on Monday.

Why it matters: The move temporarily pauses part of a 2018 measure by the Trump administration to impose steel and aluminum tariffs on a broad swath of countries.

The big picture: While Ukraine is a relatively minor supplier of steel to the U.S. — coming in only 12th among foreign suppliers — the steel industry looms large in Ukraine and has been a source of economic growth, per the New York Times, which first reported the news.

  • Ukraine's steel industry employs 1 in 13 people in the country and many steel mills have "continued to pay, feed, and even shelter their employees" through the war, the Commerce Department noted in the press release.
  • The country ranks as the world's 13th largest steel producer and 80% of its steel output is exported, according to S&P Global.
  • The Trump-era policy — a 25% tariff on steel and a 10% tariff on aluminum — was imposed on the basis that the foreign products were a threat to U.S. national security.

State of play: Although many of the country's steel producers halted much of their production at the start of the Russian invasion in February, two major producers — ArcelorMittal and Metinvest — began to restart some of their operations last month, the Wall Street Journal reported.

What they're saying: "We can’t just admire the fortitude and spirit of the Ukrainian people — we need to have their backs and support one of the most important industries to Ukraine’s economic well-being," Raimondo said in the press release.

  • "For steel mills to continue as an economic lifeline for the people of Ukraine, they must be able to export their steel."
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