(September 26, 2019 / JNS) U.S. Reps. Brad Schneider (D-Ill.) and David Schweikert (R-Ariz.) sent a letter on Thursday to U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer, sharing their concerns over tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from Israel, and seeking an explanation why Israel has not been granted an exception.
“We do not believe imports of steel and aluminum from Israel are a threat to U.S. national security and are asking you to explain why Israel has not been granted an exemption,” wrote Schneider and Schweikert, both members of the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee, which has jurisdiction over tariffs and taxes.
U.S. President Donald Trump has used Section 232 of the Trade Expansion Act of 1962 to enact tariffs on imports of aluminum and steel from numerous countries, citing U.S. national security concerns.
The United States has granted exemptions from those tariffs to Canada, Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Australia and South Korea. However, tariffs remain on such imports from Israel.
The letter emphasized the importance of the U.S.-Israel relationship, especially as it pertains to defense.
“In 2017, Israel’s exports of steel and aluminum represented only 0.0005 percent and 0.12 percent of total U.S. imports of steel and aluminum, respectively,” stated the letter.
“While these numbers may seem small, the fact remains that the U.S. is a major trading partner for Israel, and any disruption in the economic relationship will have a far-reaching impact,” it continued. “As such, after the imposition of tariffs, Israel’s covered aluminum exports to the U.S. decreased by 31.9 percent. The Section 232 tariffs have created uncertainty for Israeli businesses and negatively impacted a key ally.”
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