On October 15, 2018, chief Mexican trade negotiator Jesus Seade indicated that the United States is seeking to replace Section 232 tariffs on Mexican steel with an export quota program. Seade stated that a deal regarding any potential export quotas on Mexican steel must be reached in the coming weeks, prior to the December, 1, 2018 inauguration of new Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador.
This announcement was issued just days after the trilateral trade agreement, the U.S.-Mexico-Canada Agreement (“USMCA”) was reached among the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Notably, the Section 232 tariffs, imposed in June on the basis of national security pursuant to the Trade Expansion Act of 1962, remain in place for both Mexico and Canada despite the USMCA agreement being finalized.
As of June 1, 2018, imports of Mexican steel became subject to a 25 percent duty, while aluminum shipments are subject to a 10 percent duty. Certain countries, including Argentina, Brazil and South Korea, have already negotiated export quotas to nullify the Section 232 duties. For example, South Korean officials agreed in March to cut steel exports by 30 percent of the 2015-2017 average.