U.S. Imposing Tariffs on Steel, Aluminum and Other Products (Now Includes Analysis of the Tariffs Imposed by Mexico and China)

USMEF received a number of requests for comment on President Trump’s decision to impose tariffs on imported steel and aluminum, as well as other trade policy positions of the administration. While we provided background information and re-emphasized the importance of red meat exports, USMEF does not speculate on retaliatory measures that may or may not be taken by trading partners. If you receive such a request from media, please contact Joe Schuele at or 303-547-0030.

UPDATE: On March 23, in response to the Chinese government’s announcement that it is placing pork on a list of U.S. products that could be subject to increased import duties, USMEF issued the following media statement:

UPDATE: On April 2, in response to the Chinese government’s announcement that it is placing an additional 25 percent retaliatory duty on imports of U.S. pork in response to U.S. steel and aluminum tariffs, USMEF issued the following media statement:

Statement from U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom:

We regret the Chinese government’s decision to impose an additional 25 percent duty on imports of U.S. pork and pork variety meat. The United States is a reliable supplier of pork products to China, and this decision will have an immediate impact on U.S. producers and exporters, as well as our customers in China. We are hopeful that the additional duties can be rescinded quickly, so that U.S. pork can again compete on a level playing field with pork from other exporting countries. Exports have been a key driver of growth in the U.S. pork industry, and with nearly 27 percent of U.S. pork production exported last year, international trade is critical to the continued success and profitability of the U.S. industry. China is a leading destination for U.S. pork and especially for pork variety meat. In 2017, U.S. exported 495,637 metric tons (mt) of pork and pork variety meat to China/Hong Kong, valued at $1.08 billion – our second-largest international market by volume and third-largest by value. For pork variety meat exports only, this was our largest destination in both volume (321,116 mt) and value ($741.8 million), accounting for 63 percent of U.S. export value. Variety meat exports make a critical contribution to industry profitability, and last year these exports to China/Hong Kong alone equated to more than $6.00 per U.S. hog slaughtered. With U.S. exporters facing tariff and non-tariff barriers in China and other key markets, it is especially important to expand and diversify our export destinations for U.S. red meat. USMEF is working constantly to identify new and emerging markets in regions such as Central and South America, Southeast Asia and Africa, and to expand our customer base in mainstay markets such as Mexico, Japan, South Korea and Canada.

UPDATE: On April 4, in response to the Chinese government announcing a proposal to levy retaliatory tariffs of 25 percent on China’s imports of agricultural and food products from the United States, including U.S. beef, USMEF issued the following media statement:

Statement from U.S. Meat Export Federation (USMEF) President and CEO Dan Halstrom:

China is a promising market for U.S. beef, and, since the June 2017 reopening, the U.S. industry has made an exceptional effort to provide customers with high-quality beef at an affordable price. This is not an easy task, due to our 13-year absence from the market and China’s beef import requirements.

Over the past nine months, interest in U.S. beef has steadily gained momentum in China and our customer base has grown. But if an additional import tariff is imposed on U.S. beef, these constructive business relationships, and opportunities for further growth, will be put at risk. USMEF is hopeful that this trade dispute can be resolved without China introducing additional obstacles for U.S. beef.

In the second half of 2017, following the market reopening, U.S. beef exports to China totaled 3,020 metric tons valued at $31 million. Through April 2018, exports totaled $21.3 million.

Please note: China’s proposed tariff on U.S. beef is not in response to the U.S. tariffs on steel and aluminum. Rather, it is in response to a recent U.S. proposal to impose tariffs on imports from China as a result of an investigation into the forced transfer of U.S. technology and intellectual property. China has not yet imposed an additional tariff on U.S. beef, but the tariff rate is expected to increase from 12 percent to 37 percent on July 6.

U.S. pork is being hit by retaliatory tariffs in response to BOTH the steel and aluminum tariffs and the tariffs related to technology and intellectual property. On July 6, USMEF anticipates that the tariff rate will climb from 37 percent to 62 percent.

UPDATE: On May 24, the Commerce Department initiated an investigation under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act to determine whether U.S. imports of automobiles and automotive parts threaten to impair national security. It remains to be seen whether this investigation impacts trade of other goods, but the announcement drew a strong reaction from several trading partners.

UPDATE: See USMEF’s detailed analysis of the retaliatory tariffs imposed by China on U.S. pork and beef here: FULL REPORT ON CHINA

And the analysis of the tariffs imposed on U.S. pork by Mexico here: FULL REPORT ON MEXICO

The other country that has targeted U.S. red meat for retaliatory tariffs is Canada. Its proposed retaliation list includes two HS Code lines for Chapter 16 Prepared Beef Products, from which Canada’s 2017 imports from the U.S. were valued at $164 million.

UPDATE: In late August, USTR announced that the United States and Mexico reached an agreement in principle on key issues under discussion in the NAFTA renegotiations. A USTR fact sheet states that tariffs on agricultural products traded between the United States and Mexico will remain at zero. However, Mexico has not yet been exempted from the United States’ steel and aluminum tariffs and so Mexico’s retaliatory duties on U.S. pork remain in place. The Trump administration then notified Congress of its intent to sign an agreement with Mexico. Canada is not included in the agreement, but negotiations with Canada are ongoing.

While USMEF is pleased with the progress in reaching an agreement with Mexico, removing the retaliatory duties on U.S. pork remains the most immediate concern for the U.S. meat industry.

UPDATE: On Sept. 17, USTR released a list of approximately $200 billion worth of Chinese imports that will be subject to additional tariffs beginning Sept. 24. The initial tariff rate will be 10 percent but it is set to increase to 25 percent on Jan. 1, 2019. HS 0504 sausage casing imports from China were not included on the final list.

In response, the Chinese government announced its retaliatory measures. Effective Sept. 24, China will impose additional tariffs on approximately $60 billion in imports from the United States, including an additional 10 percent tariff on pork stomachs and casings (HS0504). Other U.S. red meat products are included on the latest retaliation list, but they are items not currently eligible for export to China. Hog sausage casings and stomachs were the only significant red meat export items that had not yet been included on China’s retaliatory tariff lists.