b'REVEALED Bidens Steel Tariff PolicyRecent agreements with Japan and the EU indicate the administrations hybrid approachBy Peter Buxbaum, AJOTE arly February saw the conclusion of an agreement between the United States and Japan with respect to the Trump-era Section 232 tariffs on steel. Coming as it did three months after a similar accord was reached with the European Union, the agreement provided clarity on the Biden administrations position on this issue. Both agreements took similar tacks in partially lifting and partially sustaining the Section 232 tariffs, an indication that this hybrid approach is now President Joe Bidens policy.The Section 232 tariffs were introduced by former President Donald J. Trump in June 2018, when he imposed a 25% tariff on European and Japanese steel on national security grounds. While the tariffs gained support from domestic steel manufacturers, they were opposed by U.S. steel users, because, combined with the effects of the pandemic, they caused steel shortages and higher prices. Ford Motor Company, for one, estimated that the Section 232 tariffs raised the costs of its U.S.-based manufacturing by $1 billion.New AgreementsBoth the Japan and EU agreements allow a specified volume of steel to flow into the U.S. tariff-free, based on different historical reference points, while quantities above those levels will still be subject to a 25% tariff rate quota (TRQ). Under the agreement with Japan, 1.25 million metric tons per year is the quantity eligible for tariff-free treatment, allocated quarterly over 54 categories based on import levels in 2018-2019. The EU agreement allows 3.3 million tons in tariff free, equivalent to average annual exports between 2015 and 2017. Whether those volumes, combined with domestic supply, will be enough to satisfy U.S. demand in a time of increased infrastructure spending is questionable. The differing historical reference periods for each agreement is notable, because, according to Carolyn Bethea Connolly, an international trade attorney at Faegre Drinker, steel exports from Japan sharply declined following the 2018 implementation of the Section 232 steel tariffs, so, that the 2018-2019 based metrics result in a lower TRQ as compared to 2015-2017.10'