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Trump administration changes tariff exemption process after complaints

The Trump administration is changing the process for receiving exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs....

Posted: Sep 20, 2018 8:13 PM
Updated: Sep 20, 2018 8:13 PM

The Trump administration is changing the process for receiving exemptions from steel and aluminum tariffs.

Businesses complained that the procedure to apply for an exemption was murky, and tilted toward big companies that were able to squash requests from smaller ones.

Under the new guidelines announced by the Commerce Department on Thursday, companies will have more time to respond when other companies try to block their exemption requests.

"These updates will help perfect the process to ensure a fair hearing for all parties involved," Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said in a statement.

Smaller companies are struggling with higher costs because of the tariffs, and have been frustrated by the review process, CNN reported in June.

Moving forward, companies that submit tariff exclusion requests will have time after the close of the 30-day comment period to respond to any objections that were filed. The objector then gets another chance to respond.

Previously, big steel companies could file objections at the tail end of the 30-day comment period and ask the Trump administration to deny the request.

At that point, it was often too late for the companies that were applying to respond before the Commerce Department issued its decision.

The new rebuttal process will apply to all businesses that haven't received final decisions from the government. Those that have been denied in the past can reapply.

As of Monday, more than 37,000 steel tariff exclusion requests had been submitted. About 2,550 had been approved, while more than 1,800 had been denied, according to the Commerce Department. The agency started issuing decisions in June.

The rule change only affects steel and aluminum tariffs.

A comment and rebuttal process has been in place for companies affected by tariffs on Chinese goods since July.

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