News story

EU measures in response to US steel and aluminium tariffs

Detailing the government reaction and impact on UK importers following the EU’s introduction of rebalancing measures on certain US products on 22 June.

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In response to the US’ imposition of an increase in tariffs on certain steel and aluminium products the EU is introducing rebalancing measures (also known as countermeasures) on a list of products originating in the US.

On 14 June 2018 EU Member States unanimously supported these countermeasures, which will enter into force on Friday 22 June. The full list of products which will be subject to rebalancing measures can be found on the Commission’s website.

The EU’s rebalancing plans are a measured and proportionate response which the UK government supports.

Going forward we will continue to work closely with the Commission on the other strands of their response. We will maintain our dialogue with the Commission on the products listed, and we will also continue to seek a constructive, permanent resolution with the US to avoid further escalation that would harm businesses and consumers in both the US and EU.

There are 2 lists of products to which rebalancing measures will be applied:

  • Annex I, which sets out the products on which the EU will apply additional tariffs of 10% or 25% from 22 June 2018. This is in response to the US increase in tariffs of 25% on imports of certain steel products.
  • Annex II, which sets out the products on which the EU will impose maximum tariffs of 10%, 25%, 35% or 50% from 1 June 2021 or after a successful WTO dispute, whichever is sooner. This is in response to the US increase in tariffs of 10% on imports of certain aluminium products and of 25% on imports of certain other steel products.

The Commission will initially be imposing rebalancing measures on the full list contained in Annex I. However, the US Department of Commerce is currently running a product exclusion process, where US importers can apply for specific products to be excluded from the tariffs. The Commission has said that it will reduce the countermeasures commensurately with any product exclusions.

The rebalancing measures will enter into force on 22 June, but under EU Implementing Regulation 2018/724 (Article 4), goods which have already exported from the US will not be caught by the new duties.

For imports into the UK and for the purpose of these rebalancing measures HMRC consider the point of export to be the completion of export formalities followed by the leaving of the territorial waters of the US. It is that point that customs will take into account when considering whether or not to apply the new duties. A proof such as the bill of lading, where the shipping date may be compared to the date of entry into force of the rebalancing measures must be made available to the customs authorities on request.

Goods that were exported from the US prior to 22 June 2018 are exempt from these new duties. This includes goods that were on the high seas. HMRC’s IT system CHIEF will automatically calculate and apply the rebalancing duty on all goods entered to free circulation from 22 June so importers should use the duty override facility within the CHIEF system. This requires the importer to enter ‘VCL’ in Box 47c and overwrite the duty in Box 47d to ‘0.00’ against the A20 tax line (see the guidance in Tariff Volume 3 Part 3 page 3-18 for override codes). Evidence that an override has been used appropriately may be required at a later date.

Government support

We will continue to work closely with the EU Commission to ensure that UK Business interests are firmly represented. DIT, BEIS and HMRC met with UK businesses on 20 June to discuss matters further and will hold a second meeting on 25 June.

Published 22 June 2018