UK steel, aluminum exporters start tariff-free exports to US

Steel and aluminum exporters in the UK no longer have to pay tariffs to export material to the US, with some volumes allowed to be exported duty-free from June 1.

The US had said in March that it would replace Section 232 steel and aluminum tariffs on shipments from the UK with a quota system.

Up to 500,000 mt/year of steel, 900 mt/year of unwrought aluminum, 11,400 mt/year of semi-finished aluminum and 9,300 mt/year of aluminum foil will now be allowed to enter the US without duties.

The US’ imports of steel products from the UK must be melted and poured in the UK to be eligible for protection under the quota, according to the arrangement, which also includes a novel smelt and cast requirement for aluminum.

Additionally, any metal produced in the UK by a company linked to China will come under review and require an “attestation.”

The UK government said in a June 1 statement that this was the first time UK steel and aluminum exporters could export tariff free into the US since 2018.

“The lifting of tariffs has been hailed as a huge win by UK steelmakers and will bring new business opportunities for companies across the supply chain,” it said.

It is a significant day for the UK steel companies and their US customers, UK Steel Director General Gareth Stace said, adding that the implementation of the deal was a “major improvement in the trading environment for the UK sector.”

“From today UK steel producers will again be able to sell steel to American consumers tariff free, giving them a critical competitive advantage over global competitors and allowing them to recover market share lost in the years since tariffs were imposed,” Stace said.

Platts assessed weekly UK hot-rolled coal prices at GBP950/mt DDP West Midlands May 27, up 14.5% since the start of 2022, according to S&P Global Commodity Insights.

“From today, our UK steel and aluminum exporters can also get back to exporting across the Atlantic to our largest trading partner,” UK Secretary of State for International Trade Anne-Marie Trevelyan said.

In response, the UK has ended its “rebalancing measures” on a wide variety of US products, including whiskey, making US products cheaper to import and lowering costs for UK consumers and businesses.

The US imported a total 281,606 mt of steel from the UK in 2018 and 231,104 mt in 2019, including carbon, alloy and stainless products, according to Commerce Department data. Imports from the UK fell to 190,240 mt in 2020 but rose to 272,079 mt in 2021.

The US imported 127.5 mt of unwrought aluminum, 4,862 mt of flat semi-finished aluminum and 9,314 mt of aluminum foil from the UK in 2021.

— Jacqueline Holman, Nick Lazzaro