Shortly after the New Year began, in light of the positions taken by the candidates in the Presidential election campaign, our International Trade & National Security team conducted a webinar for clients and friends and reviewed both the import and export implications of the incoming administration.
In our import analysis, we focused our attention on those actions exclusively within the jurisdiction of the Executive Branch – actions that would not require Congressional approval or that were not subject to Congressional override. We suggested that one of the statutes that might be invoked to limit imports was section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act (19 USC § 1862). This statute, which has rarely been used, gives the President the authority to achieve the goals that he frequently articulated during the Presidential campaign. On April 20, 2017, the Secretary of Commerce invoked this statute to order the commencement of an investigation into imports of steel into the United States, and the President simultaneously issued a Memorandum directing that the investigation be conducted “expeditiously.” (Presidential Memorandum for the Secretary of Commerce, April 20, 2017, Sec. 3) We therefore thought it would be a helpful to focus on this statute, not simply to explain its elements, but more importantly, to get a sense of what outcomes can be expected from this provision of law.