East Asian Observer
XI JEAIL 1 (2018)
The Legal and Policy Implications of the
US Steel Tariffs on East Asia
Many are crying foul over the Trump Administration’s use of steel and aluminum
tariffs, claiming that imports are not a threat to the US national security. Rather, it
has been argued that the tariffs are a pretext to gain strategic advantage in unrelated
trade negotiations. Members of the Trump administration have hailed subsequent trade
concessions as proof that the tariffs have been successful, which, if proven, could raise a
credible question as to whether the President exceeded the scope of his authority. Domestic
and international challenges have already begun with the US courts being a more effective
forum to the challenge the legality of the tariffs than the WTO.
Donald Trump, US Steel, Tariffs, National Security, WTO, Section 232
Shortly following the 2016 US election, President Trump instructed Secretary of
Commerce Wilbur Ross to initiate a Section 232 investigation under the Trade
Expansion Act of 1962
to determine the effects of steel imports on the US national
A Section 232 investigation requires the Secretary of Commerce to provide
1 19 U.S.C. § 1862(b)(1)(A).
2 See Remarks by President Trump at Signing of the Memorandum regarding the Investigation Pursuant to Section
232(B) of the Trade Expansion Act (Apr. 20, 2017), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/
The following week, a second investigation was initiated on imports of aluminum. See Presidential Memorandum for
the Secretary of Commerce, The White House (Apr. 27, 2017), available at https://www.whitehouse.gov/presidential-
actions/presidential-memorandum-secretary-commerce (all last visited on Apr. 21, 2018).
* Assistant Professor of Law at Sogang University School of Law. J.D. (Pittsburgh). ORCID: http://orcid.org/0000-0002-
7512-9090. The author may be contacted at: email@example.com / Address: Sogang University School of Law, 35
Baekbeom-ro (Sinsu-dong), Mapo-gu, Seoul 04107 Korea.