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Elizabeth Warren: Trump administration letting foreign firms skip tariffs

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is questioning the Trump administration's enforcement of stee...

Posted: Oct 31, 2018 11:38 PM
Updated: Oct 31, 2018 11:38 PM

Massachusetts Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren is questioning the Trump administration's enforcement of steel tariffs, saying that a majority of early waivers granted went to foreign-owned companies.

Companies with operations in the United States, but headquartered in Japan and China, were more likely to have their requests granted than American companies seeking relief, according to a review done by Warren's staff of more than 900 decisions made during the first 30 days that responses were made available.

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"I write to express grave concern that the majority of the first batch of exemptions your department has issued from the Trump administration's steel tariffs have gone to subsidiaries of foreign-owned companies — even though these tariffs are purportedly in place to protect American companies," wrote Warren in a letter sent Tuesday to Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross.

In March, the Trump administration imposed a 25% tariff on steel products imported into the United States. The duties are meant to protect domestic steel producers, which the administration deems crucial to the country's national security.

But the Commerce Department also allows importers to apply for a waiver from those tariffs if they can't find a domestic supplier for the product they need. Only entities located in the United States can apply for exclusions.

Warren, a potential 2020 presidential candidate, has been one of the loudest critics of President Donald Trump and his trade policies, which are a big part of his agenda. Trump moved forward with the steel tariffs even at the cost of losing his top economic adviser Gary Cohn, who argued against them.

In a statement sent to CNN Wednesday, the Commerce Department said Warren's analysis "betrays a lack of understanding of the exclusion process."

The agency stood by its process, calling it "fair and transparent." It was established to help supply Americans with steel that could not or would not be produced in the United States, the statement said.

Greenfield Industries, which manufactures a variety of drill bits made from steel, is one of the companies that was granted a waiver from the tariffs. In one of its applications, the company said that US steel suppliers cannot meet the demand for the "high speed steel" material it requires.

Warren's letter points out that Greenfield Industries is owned by TDC, a company based in China. But according to the company's application, it has been manufacturing in the United States since 1874. Its manufacturing facility in Seneca, South Carolina, employs more than 330 people, it said.

Greenfield became part of TDC in 2009, according to the company's website.

The exclusion process has been criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, for other reasons.

"Although you promised that the exclusion process would be 'fair and transparent,' a number of Wisconsin business leaders have expressed concerns to me about the uncertainty and arbitrary nature of the exclusion process," Sen. Ron Johnson, a Republican from Wisconsin, wrote in a letter sent to Ross in August.

Many business owners say the process to apply for a waiver is lengthy and opaque. Domestic producers can try to block the request, and at first, the company asking for the exemption had no opportunity to respond to the objection. That was changed in September, months after the tariffs went into effect.

The waivers are temporary, lasting for one year. But most companies are still waiting for a ruling on their request. To date, 43,600 steel tariff requests have been filed, about 11,300 were approved and more than 4,000 were denied.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 484675

Reported Deaths: 9480
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison33151493
Hinds31184589
DeSoto30803365
Jackson23735349
Rankin21390373
Lee14963221
Madison14206272
Jones13430227
Forrest13199241
Lauderdale11623307
Lowndes10501176
Lamar10258130
Pearl River9151221
Lafayette8268137
Hancock7534113
Washington7144152
Oktibbeha6989124
Monroe6533167
Neshoba6489201
Warren6486166
Pontotoc632993
Panola6278127
Marshall6165126
Bolivar6129145
Union576089
Pike5626138
Alcorn540590
Lincoln5310132
George473572
Scott461596
Leflore4495140
Tippah448180
Prentiss447979
Itawamba4457100
Adams4429117
Tate4420103
Wayne434667
Simpson4339114
Copiah432988
Yazoo423686
Covington417192
Sunflower4155104
Marion4111104
Coahoma3986100
Leake398286
Newton372375
Grenada3565104
Stone351360
Tishomingo338389
Attala325987
Jasper316062
Winston305691
Clay297374
Chickasaw287866
Clarke283290
Calhoun267741
Holmes262887
Smith252249
Yalobusha224347
Tallahatchie221150
Walthall211758
Greene209945
Lawrence207034
Perry201054
Amite199452
Webster196942
Noxubee179339
Montgomery172954
Jefferson Davis168342
Carroll162537
Tunica154235
Benton143035
Kemper138840
Choctaw128826
Claiborne127134
Humphreys127038
Franklin116928
Quitman104227
Wilkinson102036
Jefferson91533
Sharkey63020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 790648

Reported Deaths: 14025
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1117431765
Mobile709021237
Madison50032633
Shelby36350315
Baldwin36278495
Tuscaloosa34034548
Montgomery33229678
Lee22712220
Calhoun21297410
Morgan19852335
Etowah19341462
Marshall17716274
Houston16862386
St. Clair15479305
Cullman14659258
Limestone14609188
Elmore14507264
Lauderdale13557281
Talladega13015236
DeKalb12214237
Walker10604330
Blount9735157
Autauga9691137
Jackson9400158
Coffee8934175
Dale8631173
Colbert8545184
Tallapoosa6688181
Escambia6599121
Covington6466167
Chilton6395144
Russell608755
Franklin5805101
Chambers5425134
Marion4818120
Dallas4713189
Clarke464079
Pike463297
Geneva4433117
Winston427395
Lawrence4124108
Bibb410281
Barbour347470
Marengo326485
Monroe320253
Butler318490
Randolph306656
Pickens306474
Henry302658
Hale293085
Cherokee290855
Fayette280373
Washington245548
Crenshaw238770
Cleburne236751
Clay229265
Macon220658
Lamar200443
Conecuh182046
Coosa170835
Lowndes170858
Wilcox159736
Bullock149543
Perry136537
Sumter124736
Greene121443
Choctaw73427
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