Five leading US-based steel industry associations have today expressed concern about a recent US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) notification that importers may be granted additional days for payment of estimated duties, taxes and other fees, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency.

In a letter last night to Mark Morgan, acting CBP commissioner, the American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI), Steel Manufacturers Association (SMA), Specialty Steel Industry of North America (SSINA), the Committee on Pipe and Tube Imports (CPTI) and the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) urged that the agency “not allow this crisis to encourage bad actors from taking advantage of an at-risk system during this crisis period.”

“The steel industry in the United States appreciates the efforts the administration has been making to limit the spread and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on businesses and the broader economy,” the letter stated. “Any efforts to delay or reduce the collection of duties on unfairly-traded steel imports or imports that threaten to impair US national and economic security will ultimately hurt US workers and businesses during this unprecedented moment. “

The group expressed concern about a communication posted through the Cargo Systems Messaging Service (CSMS) on 20 March, which notes that the CBP will grant “additional days for payment of estimated duties, taxes, and fees” on a case-by-case basis as a result of the emergency situation, and the possibility that a longer-term policy may be forthcoming.

“The existing anti-dumping and countervailing duty orders on steel imports are a direct result of legal action petitioned by domestic steelmakers and the relief obtained demonstrated that the domestic industry was either materially injured or threatened by material injury as a result of these unfairly-traded steel imports. During this crisis, our industry is especially vulnerable to the adverse impact of unfairly-traded steel imports, as the effects of this pandemic are uneven worldwide and certain major steel-producing nations continue producing steel despite softening demand that occurred before the pandemic even began,” they wrote.

“It is also imperative that the duties collected by CBP under the Section 232 action continue without pause during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the Secretary of Commerce determined in 2018, domestically-sourced steel is critical to US national and economic security, particularly during a time of crisis,” the associations concluded.