The U.S. Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security today published in the Federal Register a Request for Public Comments seeking comments on the Section 232 product exclusion process, including the responsiveness of the process to market demand and enhanced consultation with U.S. firms and labor organizations.
The request follows a Presidential Proclamation made late last year, which adjusted the imports of steel and aluminum into the United States based on the agreement reached with the European Union.
Current Processing Times
In the request, BIS notes that so far it has processed over 382,000 exclusion requests and has rejected or made determinations on more than 369,000 requests.
Approximately 70% of requests do not receive objections and on average are processed within six weeks. For exclusion requests that do receive objections, however, the most recent average processing time is fourteen weeks.
Requests are generally granted by Commerce due to a lack of domestic availability of the specified products in the U.S.
Scope of Comments
BIS is seeking comments from stakeholders on potential changes to the Section 232 forms and required information; the request, objection, rebuttal and surrebuttal process; the standards of review; criteria for general approved exclusions; and the overall transparency of the process. Of specific interest to the bureau are the following topics:
- How to reduce the volume of submission errors and rejected filings in the Section 232 exclusions portal;
- How to address the time for processing exclusion requests, including but not limited to reducing the length or type of attachments;
- Requiring public summaries of any confidential business information in exclusion requests and objections, similar to the existing requirement for rebuttal and surrebuttals;
- Requiring public disclosure of delivery times on the exclusion request and objection forms;
- Requiring recent (i.e., from the last quarter or 90 days) evidence supporting claims made in a request or an objection;
- Streamlining the online forms or otherwise reducing administrative burden; and
- Assessing the GAEs’ criteria and identification of specific products.
Interested parties must submit any comments no later than March 28, 2022 via the Federal eRulemaking Portal on docket number BIS–2021–0042.
Within 60 days of the close of the comment period, BIS will issue a proposed regulation revising the product exclusion process as required based on the input received.