Here’s What’s Happened in U.S. Trade Policy So Far This Year


Now that we’re past the halfway point of 2019, it’s the perfect time to reflect on the macro-level developments in U.S. trade policy so far this year.

No one would argue that it hasn’t already been an eventful year. For fair trade advocates within the business community, such as Majestic Steel president and CEO Todd Leebow, 2019 has brought its share of good news and bad.

What developments should most concern the buying public? The businesses, large and small, whose collective toil has produced the longest peacetime expansion in U.S. history?

Let’s take a look at a few of the most salient.

The U.S. Court of International Trade Allows Trump’s Steel Tariffs to Remain

A key pillar of the Trump administration’s tariff policy remains in place after the U.S. Supreme Court declined this spring to hear an appeal brought by lawyers for the American Institute for International Steel. Per Politico, the plaintiffs hoped to overturn the U.S. Court of International Trade’s decision to leave in place tariffs imposed under Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962. Now that the Supreme Court has declined to hear the case, the Court of International Trade’s ruling is considered final.

The Administration Increases Anti-Dumping Duties on South Korean Steel

Per BusinessKorea, the administration significantly increased anti-dumping duties imposed on two South Korean steel producers. Like its decision to impose Section 232 tariffs on foreign imports, the anti-dumping duties are likely to benefit American steel producers in the short term.

Old Friends Get Involved

It’s not just China and other adversarial nations mixing it up with the United States on trade. The European Union, a close military ally and massive trading partner of the United States, is right in the middle of an ongoing, multifaceted trade dispute with its transatlantic counterpart. 

Recently, the European delegation to the World Trade Organization circulated a testily worded letter giving notice of the E.U.’s proposed suspension of Article 8.2 concessions — in effect, that the E.U. would impose retaliatory tariffs in response to the Trump administration’s own duties. Whether the present E.U.-U.S. trade spat lingers or resolves quickly could determine the future course of the relationship between the two blocs.

What Lies Ahead?

The first half of 2019 wasn’t just an eventful year for U.S. trade policy buffs. It was also an unpredictable one. Most more-than-casual observers expect the second half of 2019 to follow suit.

Even if you don’t operate a business that’s directly affected by the trade policies of the United States and its trading partners around the world, you’re certain to be affected by the vagaries of the global import-export markets. You owe it to yourself to keep close watch on what’s happening here at home and abroad, especially if you’re planning to make big-ticket purchases in the coming months. Getting out ahead of late-breaking changes to U.S. tariff policy could reduce those purchases’ cost.